» Wednesday, January 11, 2006


The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) informed journalists that, having listened to the range of opinion on the issue, health ministers intended to hold discussions with MPs seeking to amend the bill to remove the exemption of pubs which don't serve food from the proposed ban. Following these discussions it was the Government's intention to allow its MPs, including ministers, a free vote on the amendment. Asked if the free vote was inconsistent with the Government's manifesto commitments, the PMOS said that the manifesto commitment was to ban smoking in 95 per cent of public areas.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Rail security

Asked what the point of the trial of airport-style scanners on the Heathrow express platform at Paddington was, the PMOS said that this was a pilot scheme to test methods of improving security at railway stations. In this instance the main purpose was to test the application of security equipment in a busy, modern railway station. Asked if everyone travelling to Heathrow would be scanned, the PMOS said no. People would be searched at random. The aim was to test the equipment to see how you could balance the need to insure this capability without impeding travel. This had been announced in early December last year.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Budget deficit

Asked if the Government shared the EU's concerns over the UK's budget deficit, the PMOS said that the Treasury would be dealing with this issue. However he would simply point out that our deficit had nearly halved over the last year and was projected to halve again over next year. The UK continued to have the lowest average deficit of any other major European economy since 1997. The Treasury would emphasize that we continued to meet our fiscal rules for the economic cycle.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Duchy of Lancaster

Put to him by the Evening Standard that there had been a lot of concern about the Government not having a Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the PMOS said that he was indebted to the Evening Standard for selflessly reflecting the concern of others and he was sure it had been the cause of many sleepless nights. He would pass on those concerns to the person concerned.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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