Prime Minister’s Visit to Indonesia
The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) told journalists that before this trip had started, he had said that in many ways, this trip was an illustrated guide to speeches and the themes that the Prime Minister had been developing in his speeches. It had been borne out, particularly in Indonesia.
Intelligence and Security Committee Report
Put that the BBC had been extensively reporting about the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) Investigation Board's report into the July 7th bombing, and did this represent a security breach, the PMOS replied that the time to comment on the ISC report would be when it was actually published, and not before. The PMOS said he was sure that whoever was responsible for the report would be looking to see how reports about the report had come out.
Prime Minister’s speeches/Iraq
Put that the Prime Minister had said in his speech last week that there were some people who just couldn't get past Iraq, and was he concerned that that seemed to include an awful lot of Muslims in Indonesia, the PMOS said: no, there was a difference. That was apparent both in the meeting with the religious leaders, and in the school. There was a difference between people who wanted to express a) their opposition to Iraq; and b) those who had asked for an explanation on Iraq, and on the other hand, a willingness to engage to try and make sure that such misunderstandings did not happen in the future.
Put that the Spectator had reported that before the Prime Minister went on his trip, he and the Chancellor had met to discuss the succession, and it claimed they had agreed dates, that they had discussed the process of how the transfer might take place, and was this true, the PMOS asked which detailed source did the Spectator quote for this?
Dr. Condoleezza Rice visit
Asked for further information regarding a mosque in Blackburn who had withdrawn its invitation to Condaleeza Rice to visit it this weekend, apparently because of the prospect of protests locally, and what was the reaction to it, the PMOS replied that as the Prime Minister had shown here, the PMOS did not want to comment directly on the situation because he did not know the circumstances. However, a more general point was that however strongly people disagreed, what was important was that we did our utmost to increase understanding, not decrease it. Therefore that was what should guide us.
Put that throughout the debate about security issues in recent years, the Government had made repeatedly the point that the key thing was to listen to what the security professionals had said, and to take their advice very seriously, but the Prime Minister had decided in this case not to take the advice of the Interception Communications Commissioner who had very clearly advised that the Wilson doctrine should be changed so that MPs were treated just like any other citizen of this country, so why had the Prime Minister decided that MPs should be treated differently, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister considered very, very carefully the advice from Swinton Thomas as people would expect.
Asked what was happening next week on Northern Ireland, the PMOS said that we would announce it whenever we are ready to announce it. However, we had been in the process of putting together a package of proposals, and we were nearing the process of completing that package. Whenever we did so we would make further announcements.
Asked if there was a decision not to go to Washington to make the third speech next week and if that was a result of something at our end, or was it at the American end, the PMOS replied that the Prime Minister had said that he would make a speech shortly, or in the not-too-distant future in America. We would still do that, and that remained the Prime Minister's very firm intention. Final details had not been tied down, but they would be in due course.
Asked if the Prime Minister might be required to give evidence to the police as part of their investigation into political funding, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that he didn't give a running commentary on any police investigation, this investigation was no different. As Mike O'Brien had said that allegations had been made which the police were looking into, but just because those allegations had been made that did not mean there was any truth in them.
Asked if Ashok Kumar still had his job, the PMOS said that this was a matter for the chief whip. Asked if the Prime Minister had a view on Mr Kumar appearing to say that the Prime Minister should leave office rapidly, the PMOS said that he was not going to get involved in commenting on the assumptions contained in that question. It was a matter for the chief whip. Asked if the Prime Minister had full confidence in Hilary Benn, the PMOS said yes. Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken to Hilary Benn or intended to speak to him, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister has been very busy today and had an extraordinarily busy schedule tomorrow.
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