» Thursday, March 9, 2006

PM Trip

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) outlined the Prime Minister's schedule. The Prime Minister would be going to Slovakia later today where he would meet Mikulas Dzurinda, the Slovak Prime Minster and President Ivan Gasparovic. Then tomorrow he would go on to Prague for talks with Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek. This was a very short visit so there was no time for other calls. However next month he would meet Mirek Topolanek, the Czech opposition leader and Robert Fico, Slovak opposition leader when they were in London.

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

Royal Irish Regiment

The PMOS told journalists that the Prime Minister had paid tribute to the courage, dedication and commitment shown by the members of the Home Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment. They had faced pressures which were unique, and this settlement package reflected that.

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

Prime Minister Trip to Bratislava-Prague

Asked about the Prime Minister's views towards the remarks of Sir Alastair Graham during his speech today on independent inquiries, the PMOS said that the key word was accountability. Whether there was someone who, in the end, made those decisions who was accountable to not only Parliament, but also to a wider electorate. That was why the Prime Minister believed that in the end, it was better that the Prime Minister who was constitutionally responsible for selecting and informing Ministers, decided if they had abided by the Ministerial Code. The other point was that those who advocated an independent figure seemed to suggest that in some way, there would be less controversy surrounding decisions taken by an independent figure.

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

Joint Trade Summit

Asked for a time frame for the joint summit that the Prime Minister and Brazilian President had called for, the PMOS said that the two leaders believed that this was necessary because we were at a particularly important time in the negotiations. However, while they would like such a meeting to inject momentum into the process they could not impose it on others leaders. It would be necessary to consult other leaders in the first instance. Officials, and leaders if necessary, would consult others about the proposal.

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


Asked about expectations for the bill, the PMOS said that he would not be drawn into commenting on the vote. The arguments had been set out and the House would make its decision. Asked why MPs had changed their minds, the PMOS said that we had set out the arguments and addressed people's concerns about selection. People had reached their own conclusions. We had put the case forward clearly and it was for people to explain their decisions.

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

Child Poverty

Asked if there had been any discussion in Cabinet about the child poverty figures that had been released today, the PMOS replied there had not been. As people knew, however, Ministers had been talking about them.

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

Sir Alistair Graham

Asked why Geoff Hoon had rejected Sir Alistair Graham's proposals, the PMOS said that the problem with the call for independent figures was that the only argument put forward was that they could reach decisions with less controversy. If people actually looked at the experiences of the Mayor of London, Lord Hutton and even the one in yesterday's Evening Standard about Sir Philip Mawer it did not seem to be the case. In the end these decisions were matters of judgement, so what was appropriate was that the person accountable to parliament and ultimately the electorate took those decisions. In the end these would always be seen as matters of judgement. This was why the Prime Minster continued to believe that he was the one that the electorate expected to take such decisions about ministers. Geoff Hoon had been reflecting that view.

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

Brazilian President

Asked whether for further information about the bird flu discussions at Cabinet, the PMOS replied that it was a résumé of what we already knew, and of the uncertainties which surrounded the issue. The discussion was an attempt to sketch out the contingency planning to deal with any eventualities. It was clearly a very uncertain issue.

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

OFT Referral

Asked whether the Prime Minister had thoughts on the OFT referral, the PMOS said that because there was an OFT referral people should await the outcome of that referral and if necessary we would comment afterwards.

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

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