Asked by the Sun if the Prime Minister would be encouraging further members of the Cabinet to fly St George's flags from their official limos, the PMOS replied that as he had said this morning, and yesterday, both in response to questions from the Sun, individual Ministers would choose to do what individual Ministers would do. The Prime Minister would express his support in his own way for the England team.
Meeting with Corporate Leaders Group – Climate Change
The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) stressed to journalists that the Government was in total agreement about the need to give certainty to business. That was why we had said that there needed to be agreement on stabilisation goals. That was also why we pushed climate changes so hard at the G8 last year and in October there would be a follow up meeting on that in Mexico. The Prime Minister has said, despite what some of the coverage this morning seemed to indicate, that we needed to give certainty to business so that they could confidently invest in the R&D.
Asked what was the Prime Minister's view on the seriousness of the problem regarding 8 of the most serious foreign offenders still being on the loose, as the head of the IND had told a Select Committee, the PMOS said that there were two issues. One was the issue of dealing with those who were freed and not deported. Measures were in place to track them down as soon as possible, and that work continued. There was also, however, the overall question of changing the system to ensure that we did not end up in the same place again. Work was continuing on that as well. The Prime Minister recognised, as he had said in his speech this morning, that there was frustration at this problem arising. However, as both John Reid and David Normington in a joint statement had made clear, the officials and the Ministers were determined to work together to resolve the issues.
Public Service Speech
Asked if it was fair to say that there was nothing particularly new in the Prime Minister's speech on reinventing government, the PMOS said what the speech did was pull together the themes that the Prime Minister had been developing in terms of his attitude to public service reform as a whole, and take them further. The Conference today had a variety of speakers such as John Hutton and David Miliband as well as speakers from Canada and elsewhere talking about public service reform.
Asked if we were trying to talk up divisions within businesses to deal with climate change, the PMOS replied that the Prime Minister had been saying for quite some time that we believed that there should be an overall stabilisation goal agreed, and that should be agreed internationally, as it did not mean anything, otherwise. The Prime Minister thought that was important because certainty needed to be given to industry, so that it knew that if it invested in R&D and climate change, then it would get a return. We were in precise agreement that there did need to be a strong signal to industry in the form of our stabilisation goal, which was both of benefit to the environment, but also gave the rights to industry.
Asked what had come out of the breakfast meeting with FTSE companies concerning the governance of NHS foundation trusts, the PMOS said that what it showed was that there was a genuine enthusiasm for foundation trusts. Each of the participants this morning believed that foundation trusts were making a real difference in their areas. Equally the business participants believed, and this fitted in with the theme of the speech, that they could make a genuine contribution to making the service more effective and by making it more effective deliver a better service for the patients. Asked which people had signed up, the PMOS said that there were already people involved but people should talk to the Department of Health for the detail.
Asked if there was a response to the Unison claim that they had not been allowed to come to the public sector event today, the PMOS replied that after they had made the complaint, they had since issued a statement saying that they had been invited.
Asked how regularly the Prime Minister was briefed on the ongoing terrorism operation in the UK, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister was briefed when he needed to be briefed. The frequency depended on the need. He hoped people understood why he wouldn't say any more on that.
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that the Chancellor words on wage restraints had diverted from his message today, the PMOS replied that he did not recognise the premise of the question. The Chancellor had made the point, as had the Prime Minister, that we needed to see proper controls and returns on investment in the public sector in terms of pay. In terms of what the Prime Minister had said, his message was a broader one, which was that the public sector did need investment to improve, but the public equally, did expect, and were entitled to expect, radically better public services as a result of that investment. The Prime Minister believed that there was change for the better, but that process had to continue.
Asked to explain the situation concerning the Prime Minister's car sporting England flags, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister would give his support in his own way, in his own time. People should be in no doubt that the Prime Minister fully supported the England team, as indeed would his spokesman despite his origins.
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