Now in terms of developments here, can I first of all clearly welcome the fact that the Security Council has passed the resolution on Iran. That is both significant and welcome and we hope that Iran abides by what the Security Council says.
Today we are doing an event with Lord Browne of BP and the Governor. The key subject is climate change, and I think what you will find is that we will be announcing at that meeting that California and ourselves are going to investigate whether we can cooperate on climate change, in particular whether we can cooperate on an emissions trading scheme. There are also four other areas particularly, or four areas in detail, of collaboration that we want to look at. One is on market-based mechanisms, lessons learnt from the UK in the emissions trading scheme and consider any linkages with California; secondly is on the economics of climate change and how we can share information and research we have done; thirdly, on the science of climate change, sharing ... of regional impacts and so on; and finally on technology, trying to develop a partnership on clean energy technology, low cost technologies.
Asked about the Prime Minister's speech tomorrow, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the Prime Minister was still working on it, but theme of the speech would be that the government had invested a lot in the National Health Service in terms of investment and reform, as the Prime Minister had talked about before - the flip side of that coin was public health and improving lifestyles, which in turn reduced the demand on the health service. If you took an issue such as obesity, the question was where was the dividing line between the state's responsibility and the responsibility of the citizen. The Prime Minister would talk about more than obesity, but it was an issue that highlighted that particular dividing line. Asked whether we were suggesting individuals did not take care of themselves, the PMOS said that individuals had to take on their share of responsibility in improving their own health. Informing the individual on choices that could lead to healthier lifestyle was the sort of thing that government could help address.
Asked for further information on the Prime Minister's talks with Prince Saud today, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) replied that where we had been going since St. Petersburg was the idea of developing a stabilisation force, not only as a way of addressing the medium term problem, but rather, as a way of getting to where we all wanted to be, which was the cessation of violence on all sides. That idea which the Prime Minister had negotiated with President Putin at the G8 had been gathered momentum, as Israel now seemed to be moving in favour of it, as did others. The Core Group was meeting in Rome tomorrow, which was a representative body that included countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia and the USA. We hope that tomorrow would in broad principle support the ideas that we and the US had been putting forward, and that we could then move forward to the next stage. Today was important in getting Saudi Arabia's understanding in what we were proposing, as well as getting an idea of where they were on the issue. The important thing was that as momentum built up, there was a ceasefire on all sides, and that that ceasefire was not just another sticking plaster, but rather, was durable, as that was the only way that politics could be allowed to work.
Asked to comment on an open letter from 14 NGOs expressing concern that the UK had not used its full influence to bring about a ceasefire, the PMOS asked whether that was for an immediate ceasefire on both sides. The Prime Minister had said last Tuesday in the House of Commons that he hoped there would be a stop to the violence on all sides. The real question was how you brought that about and as the Prime Minister had said yesterday you needed a plan. The Prime Minister had been engaged on an almost hourly basis since the St Petersburg Summit in working behind the scenes to bring a ceasefire from all sides about. He wanted that ceasefire to last, not just a day, a week, a month or even a year - he wanted a sustainable solution. If that meant taking heat from people whilst that was brought about so be it. The important thing was to bring about a durable end to violence, which would mean everybody affected by this - civilians in Lebanon and Israel - did not have to go through this again. This would only be possible if people were able to negotiate a durable plan and the Prime Minister was focused on achieving that.
Asked further about the Government's action plan on obesity, and would it follow similar lines to the plan the Government had on smoking, the PMOS said that people should wait and see what the Prime Minister said in his speech on it tomorrow. The PMOS pointed out that on different issues, there were different issues involved. In terms of smoking, it was not only the harm people were doing to themselves, but also the harm they were doing to other people. What the Prime Minister most wanted to achieve was a debate precisely about that balance, and how that balance could be achieved in different areas. That was therefore true on a number of health matters.
Asked about the Foreign Secretary going on holiday this weekend, the PMOS said that it was a matter for the Foreign Office to comment on. The PMOS then suggested that it was perhaps worth reminding journalists of the government's holiday principle. It was right and proper that government ministers took a holiday. Everyone needed to take break at some stage during the year in order to continue to operate effectively. However, the government always ensured that effective cover was arranged at all times. Asked whether this applied to the Deputy Prime Minister, the PMOS said that the arrangments regarding the Deputy Prime Minister had been in place for the past nine years.
Prime Minister’s Trip to US
The PMOS told journalists that this was, remarkably, the first ever visit to California by a serving British Prime Minister. The reason why was that it was the 6th or 7th largest economy in the world, but it was also an economy which was similar to ours in that it was a new economy which was increasingly based on heavy knowledge-based industries. These were based on innovation, commitment to education, developing biotechnologies, including stem cell research, and high tech industries. It was also very committed to taking on modern challenges such as climate change where the Governor had taken on a particularly high profile role. In terms of the linkages, there were 500 UK companies operating in California, creating 120,000 jobs there. With regards to the trade balance, we exported $5.2 billion worth of products to California and we imported $15 billion worth of products from California. The PMOS then gave details of the events the Prime Minister would be attending on climate change, biotechnology, and also, the speeches that he would be giving to News International on "Leadership in the Modern World" and to the World Forum on the Middle East and other current international issues.
Put that Tessa Jowell had confirmed in Committee today that she had spoken to the Deputy Prime Minister about casinos and was this in contradiction with what he had stated, the PMOS said that it remained the case that John Prescott had not been involved in either the decision on the planning application, which had been a matter for the local council, or in deciding specific gambling licences, which was a matter for an independent body.
Prime Minister’s speech/Middle East
Asked for further information about the Prime Minister's speech that he had mentioned in today's press conference, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the genesis of it was the G8 statement and the analysis it presented of how the problem arose, the need to address that analysis, and the proposal for a stabilisation force, which was now gaining genuine momentum. We believed that that could form part of an overall consensus about how to move this forward, and an important part of that was Dr. Rice's visit to the region today, as well as the meeting of foreign Ministers in the Core Group on Wednesday in Rome in order to get a consensus about how to move things forward. The PMOS said that if people looked at the G8 statement, it was very detailed on what needed to happen in terms of moving forward on prisoner issues and kidnapped soldier issues, as well as the political track as well. It therefore did form a rich agenda to explore.
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