» Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Stephen Byers

Asked for the Government's view on Stephen Byers being referred to the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee, the PMOS said that it was a matter for the House to discuss. Asked if the Prime Minister was satisfied with Mr Byers' explanation and the way it had been conducted, the PMOS said that the court had made its judgement and the judgement of the court should be respected. Stephen Byers had set out his case and the House would debate the matter today. In response to the suggestion that his comments were lukewarm support for Stephen Byers, the PMOS said that his words were not as interpreted. They simply stated the factual case.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Compensation for victims of terrorism

Asked to clear up what the Prime Minister answered at PMQs today about compensation to victims of terror, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that what the Prime Minister was saying was that we were looking at two things. The first was recompense to those affected by the 7/7 bombings and secondly, more broadly at the issue of compensation for people in such cases, and we were also looking at the issue of compensation for those affected by terrorist outrages overseas. As the Prime Minister indicated, however, we were in early days of thinking this issue through, and we were not at the point of firm conclusions.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Soldier’s Deaths in Iraq

Asked if there was any comment on the 97th British military fatality in Iraq, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister believed that the people of Iraq had showed at the weekend by turning out to vote in a democratic election that what they wanted to see was the future of Iraq decided by democratic means. The insurgents did not want to see the future of Iraq decided by democratic means and sadly another British soldier had been killed as a result of the insurgency's attacks. What the Prime Minister believed and what the British people would expect was that we saw the job done. That meant getting to a situation where the Iraqis themselves could look after their own security. The future of Iraq should be decided by democratic means not by the use of insurgent force. Asked if the Prime Minister's view on getting the job done was an open ended, non-time limited offer, the PMOS said that as they had heard when the Iraqi President was here the Iraqi Government believed that our presence was necessary at the moment to allow them to build up their capacity. Not just in terms of numbers but also in terms of quality so that they could deal with the insurgency. As the Prime Minister had himself said at the press conference with the President the irony was that it was the insurgency that was keeping our troops there longer rather than the other way round. It was necessary to protect Iraq's emerging democracy and this was only necessary because of the attacks from the insurgency.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (4)

Rory Carroll Kidnapping

Asked what the Government's reaction was to the reported kidnapping of the Irish journalist Rory Carroll, the PMOS said that obviously we were concerned by the reports and the Foreign Office would be working with the newspaper and the family to try and see what the facts were. If there were measures we could take, then we would consider them, but the important thing was that in all these situations, we established what the facts were.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

EU Informal Summit

Asked about the informal summit, the PMOS said that it was about putting bones on the Prime Minister's June speech about the future of Europe in terms of facing the challenge of globalisation and economic reform. What it was not about was future financing. That would be discussed at the December summit. There was no desire that we had detected around Europe to debate future financing at the informal summit. That would be a matter for the December Council. Asked if any leaders would be arriving by water, the PMOS that he was not aware of any plans to do so. Asked if there were no plans to discuss financing how could they discuss CAP, the PMOS that they were not going to discuss it. The important thing for the informal summit was that Europe faced up to the broader issues before it faced up to the particular issues. The broader issues were how you met the challenge of globalisation. How you met the challenge from India and China. How you met the challenge of giving people the relevant skills for the era of globalisation. You had to get a consensus about how you approached these challenges before you dealt with the nitty-gritty of how you implemented that in terms of EU budget. People had a tendency in this country to start with the rebate and interpret everything from that perspective. It was better in fact to put the horse before the cart.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Public Sector Pensions

Asked if the deal on public sector pensions was not a "bit beer and sandwiches", and why did the Prime Minister allow his capitulation just before Adair Turner made the private sector work for longer, the PMOS said that without agreeing to any of the pejorative elements of the question, he would try and answer factually. The Government, of course, consulted unions, the CBI and the Chamber of Commerce, and we were doing so equally over the issue of paternity pay. It was sensible to hold proper discussions, and as a result of those discussions, the public purse would have saved £13 billion by 2050. That was a considerable saving, and that was why the negotiation made sense.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Conference on tackling Islamic Extremism

Asked if the Prime Minister was still exploring the idea of hosting an international conference on combating Islamic extremism, as he had said some months ago, the PMOS said that work and discussions did continue on it. Equally, the Prime Minister had said that there were conferences taking place in the Islamic world that we would want to contribute and help with, and we were doing that. The PMOS said the FCO had more details on this issue.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

IMC Report

Asked for a reaction to the report, the PMOS said that there would be a reaction after it was published from Peter Hain and his Irish counterpart who were attending the British-Irish Conference in Dublin.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Trident

Asked if the Prime Minister was suggesting that there would be an opportunity for the Commons to vote on a replacement for Trident, the PMOS replied that the Prime Minister's words spoke for themselves, and we were not at that point.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Sinn Fein Allowances

Asked why the decision was taken to give Sinn Fein back their allowances, the PMOS replied that the IMC report that ran up until the end of August, said that during that period, IRA activity had come to an end. Equally, the two Governments had the knowledge of what had been happening in September and October as well. On the basis of that, our basic approach had been "so far, so good", but equally, if the IMC report in January were to report IRA activity, then the matter could be reconsidered at that stage.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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