» Thursday, November 10, 2005

Terror Bill

Asked if the Government expected a tough fight to get their terror bill through the House of Lords given that the Lords appeared to be in a feisty mood, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that he did not answer hypothetical questions.

Asked about the Prime Minister’s description of 3 people being ‘arrested’ over the weekend when in fact they had been charged, the PMOS said that what the Prime Minister had been trying to give was an indication that there were serious ongoing terrorist investigations, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that important detail. The difference between whether these people had been arrested or charged didn’t in any way diminish that point. Put to him that given the nature of the recent legislative debate it was a very significant distinction, the PMOS repeated that it was a point of detail and did not in any way affect the broader point. All you needed to do was look at the Ricin case to illustrate that point.

Asked if in relation to the Ricin case, given that there had only been one conviction on a relatively minor charge specific to terrorist activities, was the Government saying that had the police had more powers they would have secured more convictions, the PMOS said that Andy Hayman had said on Monday that somebody in the Ricin case was charged with a lesser offence and as a result got bail, skipped bail and later on the police found forensic evidence which could have linked that person to more serious charges.

Asked to respond to accusations that the police might have become too politicised in this recent debate in terms of lobbying and contacting MPs, the PMOS said absolutely not. He asked if someone was seriously suggesting that the police should not explain why they believed very strongly in the case for 90 days. The complaint coming from MPs was that the police had not done enough to explain that case. People could not have their cake and eat it, either they wanted an explanation or they didn’t.

Asked if the Government had had any communication with police chiefs to instigate the police contacting MPs, the PMOS said that as we had said all along, this had been a police initiative which had started after the July bombing. ACPO were the ones who first put out a press release, we did not know they were going to do that. This had been their campaign from the start. Asked about the specific point regarding whether they had been asked to contact MPs, the PMOS said that he was not aware that they had been. There had of course been ongoing discussions between the Government and the police but we did not detail discussions between the Prime Minister and individuals.

Asked if therefore the Government line on this was simply no comment, the PMOS said no. What he was doing was illustrating the fact which was that it was ACPO who had first put into the public domain the idea of 90 days, we had not known that they were going to do that. They did that immediately after the July meeting so therefore it had been them who had been driving this campaign. It was their initiative not the Government’s. Asked about the Home Office’s amendment on glorification of terrorism, the PMOS said Parliament was meant to examine legislation in detail and that was part of the process. In terms of 90 days we believed that it was a fundamental point which would practically help the police investigate the cases. As a result of not getting it this country was less secure.

Asked if the police would also be contacting peers to make their case, the PMOS said that it was entirely a matter for the police how they conducted themselves. The police felt strongly on this issue, MPs had expressed a concern that they hadn’t had enough information, therefore it did seem slightly odd that people were complaining that the police were trying to provide information. Put to him that it wasn’t a question of whether they were providing information but about them telling people how to vote, the PMOS said no. Providing information and arguing for something they believed was necessary was not telling people how to vote.

Asked if there was any suggestion that the legislation might be re-introduced at some stage, the PMOS said no. However, in terms of the reality of terrorism and given the sobering seriousness of the situation, the issue would not go away. The reality was that the complexity described by the police was still there. Asked for clarification of what that meant, the PMOS said that the underlying problems the police identified remained. Those problems were that on the one hand there was a very serious terrorist threat and on the other hand a new complexity in terms of the problems relating to gathering evidence. Those problems had not been solved.

Asked to respond to a recent Home Office report saying that British foreign policy had contributed to fostering extremism in the UK, the PMOS said that it was a 100 page report and there were many elements which we recognised as practical steps towards improving relations which we welcomed. Hazel Blears had said we would study the report with an open mind. In terms of this particular point, this ground had been gone over many times. The important point was to realise that the aim of our policy in Iraq was to help democracy flourish. The aim of our policy in Afghanistan was the same. This may well mean that we had to do more to explain the fundamental point of our foreign policy, but that should not take away the fundamental aims of our foreign policy.

Asked to characterise the Prime Minister’s mood, the PMOS said that it was as the Prime Minister had said yesterday. He believed that it was right, sometimes better, to do the right thing and lose rather than do the wrong thing. This was better than putting forward a compromise when a) there was no satisfactory compromise on offer, and b) the Prime Minister believed it would have been the wrong thing to do. Asked about his general demeanour, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister was getting on with business.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Search for related news

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


November 2005
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Oct   Dec »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh