» Friday, November 25, 2005

Trade Barriers

Asked about Don McKinnon's comments on the G8 and trade barriers, the PMOS said that he was not aware of Don McKinnon's remarks. Anyone who had studied the outcome of Gleneagles would see nearly a £50 billion increase in aid. We had seen serious action being taken in helping improve the effectiveness with which aid was spent. We were seeing real pressure building up, and we were doing everything we could to increase that pressure towards a deal on trade. Even yesterday we saw for instance the EU agree a reform of the EU sugar sector which would not only save, when in came into operation, the EU$7 billion a year but it would also benefit 120 out of the 140 developing countries who were damaged by sugar subsidies.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Al Jazeera-Memo

Put to the Official Spokesman that a senior executive of Al Jazeera was looking to meet with the Prime Minister when he came to London next week, would the Prime Minister be willing to meet him and did he have a comment about Peter Kilfoyle's Early Day Motion, the PMOS said he was not aware of the EDM. It was also, he suspected, the first that Downing Street had heard about the request from Al Jazeera. It was somewhat short notice. That said the Government was quite happy to talk to Al Jazeera just as they were quite happy to talk to other broadcasters. In terms of who talked to them that would depend on who was available and how much time was given to set up a meeting. Asked if the Government, in relation to the EDM, would be willing to disclose the memo if Parliament put pressure on it to do so, the PMOS said that people needed to take not of the fact that this was something that was sub-judice.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)


Following President Obasanjo's signal on corruption did we see developing nations taking it seriously, the PMOS said that it was clear that you saw through a process of peer review being carried out by the African Union or the moves made by the G8 you increasingly saw an emphasis on good governance and on transparency. In terms of progress he would not get into the job of marking countries out of 10. He did not think that was helpful. What was important was that people could see what the expectations of the rest of the world were and also the benefits for developing countries of having processes that were transparent. The momentum was there in terms of how it was followed through. It was a process which CHOGM was ideal for keeping the pressure on.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

DWP Jobs

Asked how concerned was the Prime Minister that the job cuts at the DWP appeared to be exacerbating computer problems and stopping people's benefit cheques and getting through to someone at the DWP, the PMOS said that he was not sure his take on the job cuts affecting the service was right. He should check with DWP on that point. His understanding was that there was a new computer system, which meant that people had had difficulty. However things were improving. Last week for instance nearly 90% of calls were answered with the vast majority of customers receiving follow up calls within 2 days. It sounded more like teething problems, which inevitably and unfortunately came with this sort of development.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Death Penalty

Asked if the prime Minister had any comment on the death penalty for Nguyen Tuong Van for drug trafficking in Singapore, the PMOS said that the British Government was against the death penalty. Equally however we recognised that sovereign countries were sovereign and that they might have different views on this. As such whilst we may disagree we also had to respect that sovereignty.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

EU Report on Israel

Asked if there was any comment on the Guardian story on the FCO document criticising Israel, the PMOS said that his understanding was that this was a document that was drawn up as part of the EU process and therefore reflected not just British views but EU views. He would not comment in detail on a leaked document, but it reflected a collective heads of mission view in Jerusalem. It was still being discussed and as such it was not yet finalised.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

» Thursday, November 24, 2005

Prime Minister’s Day

Prime Minister held high level round table meeting - including representatives of the UN, NATO, Aid agencies, Pakistan Community representatives, MPs, private sector representatives, and British contributors to the appeal. Announcement today about extra £25 million for humanitarian relief, on top of £33 million already provided. Also to announce fund for helicopters and through NATO, a deployment of 86 British military engineers trained for high altitude operations. All this was to highlight the Prime Minister's concern that we did everything we could to help people get through the winter.

Briefing took place at 16:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Security Briefing

Asked if the briefing on security to Cabinet today had been a long planned meeting, or was it something that had recently come up, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) replied that it was not an overnight operation, but rather, a chance to update the Cabinet in the same way that representatives updated the Cabinet Committee about ten days ago. As then, it was a sobering, realistic assessment of the threat we faced. It also gave Cabinet a chance to express its full support for the police and the intelligence agencies in the very good work they were doing.

Briefing took place at 16:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Angela Merkel-Europe

Asked if there had been any progress on the EU budget during the meeting today between the Prime Minister and Chancellor Merkel of Germany, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that today was not about detail. Chancellor Merkel had only been doing the job for 3 days, so today had been about introductions and getting to know where we were overall. The time for detail would be at the December summit. Put to him that we could therefore assume that Germany wouldn't support us on the budget, the PMOS said that question was entirely wrong. It had not been that kind of meeting. Today had been about the context within which we tried to move forward on the detail. It had not been a negotiation on the budget.

Briefing took place at 16:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Angela Merkel Meeting

Asked what might be on the agenda for this afternoon's meeting, and also how was her working relationship with the Prime Minister rated, and was she an important ally for the EU Budget, the PMOS said that it was polite and wise to let Chancellor Merkel to speak for herself. What was important was that Britain and Germany recognised that we were at an important point on Europe, especially with regards to deciding a future direction of Europe and in meeting the opportunity and the challenge of globalisation.

Briefing took place at 16:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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