Asked why Des Browne was not able to give the Statement to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that his understanding was that Des Browne was in his constituency in Scotland, but they should check with his office. It was important to bear in mind that there was a process where the military commanders on the ground assessed the situation and then reported back to their superiors in London. Then the Secretary for State for Defence and Prime Minister were given the appropriate advice. People needed to take into account that process rather than jump ahead of that process. Without giving a running commentary the PMOS suggested that journalists were in danger of jumping ahead of the process.
Asked for further detail on the wealth creation figures, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that these figures showed the degree of growth in the economy in the UK. Wealth creation by large companies in the UK increased by 10% on last year which was greater than France and Germany. The UK had more companies in the top league than any of its European counterparts.
Deputy Prime Minister
Asked what the Prime Minister thought of the Deputy Prime Minister enjoying junket at the home of the new Dome owner who hoped to turn it into a casino, the PMOS said that there were a number of assumptions in that question/statement which had already been challenged by the Deputy Prime Minister's Office. The PMOS read out the statement released on the weekend by the Deputy Prime Minister's Office:
Asked of it wasn't time for the Government to make a statement about Afghanistan, the PMOS said that in terms of troop numbers that was a matter for the operational assessment on the ground and discussion between the commanders on the ground and staff here. In terms of the role of the UK in Afghanistan, that had been set out by John Reid and by Des Browne and no doubt Des Browne would continue to set out the analysis of the situation. Above all what was important was to remember what the mission was there to achieve. The mission was there to help the first democratically elected Government in Afghanistan to extend its control into the Southern area of the country and stop the Taliban wrecking that process of building infrastructure, building local economies, and building local administrations.
Asked if there was a response to the new head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Richard Lambert's comments, the PMOS said that those comments should be viewed against the context of the DTI announcement on the value added scoreboard. This measured the wealth created by the top 800 British and top 700 European companies. It showed that the top UK companies were out performing the rest of Europe. UK wealth creation by large companies had increased by 10% on last year, which was more than France and Germany. The UK had more companies in the top league, 197 out of 700, than any of its European counterparts. UK companies had a higher wealth creation efficiency, adding even more value at less cost, than their comparators.
Asked to respond to the Home Affairs Committee's account of the vote for 90 day detention of people suspected of taking part in terrorism, the PMOS said that he was glad that question had been asked. He pointed out that if people cast their minds back to the debate he had had with the lobby in this very room last autumn they would recall that we reported at the time that the Prime Minister had had two very detailed meetings with Senior officers from the police and security services. Senior police officers including ACPO had made representations to MPs and had been criticised at the time for politicisation. We had spelled out very clearly what the case was, starting from the fact that you had to intervene very early in the investigation cycle. There was also the fact that you had to allow a lot of time for de-encrypting computers. Also many of the sources for such information came from multiple countries and that the information was expressed in multiple languages and dialects. That was the detailed basis on which we made the case for 90 days. As we had made clear at the time our view about the need for that period hadn't changed since then.
Asked to comment on the Deputy Prime Minister's decision to stay at a private home on a US visit, the PMOS said that had been dealt with by the Deputy Prime Minister's Office and he had nothing further to add.
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