» Monday, October 16, 2006

MOD-Iraq & Afghanistan

Asked whether Adam Ingram was right to say that we needed a national debate on Iraq and Afghanistan, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that he had not seen the comments so he could not talk about them directly. In general the Government had contributed to the national debate on both Iraq and Afghanistan and if people had not noticed this yet the Prime Minister was not afraid, at any opportunity, to put forward the arguments as to why we were in Iraq and Afghanistan. No doubt he would be given the opportunity to do so again with the usual vigour at tomorrow mornings monthly press conference. Asked why a Minister thought there needed to be a debate, the PMOS said that he suspected that it was a case of saying, in a different way, that we constantly needed to remind people why we were in Iraq and Afghanistan. In its simplest form that argument was about defending democracies. There were democratically elected governments in both countries who were under attack and we were part of the defence of those democratic governments.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Put that when he was asked last week about any contact the Prime Minister had had with the White House regarding General Dannatt's comments about troops in Iraq, but Tony Snow said there had been, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) replied that the suggestion he had responded to was that we had had a conference call with the White House, and we had not. The Prime Minister had not had any contact with the White House, either.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

School Monitoring

Put that the PMOS's characterisation of the Guardian story this morning was somewhat different from Ruth Kelly's who had called it a sensible monitoring of activities, which sounded a lot like spying, the PMOS said that spying suggested an activity that was covert in nature. Putting the positive case for pluralism was a sensible thing to do whether you were in university campuses or schools or wherever and as such putting forward a positive case was what we were about. This also addressed extremism and no one should be in any way apologetic about taking on the extremist argument whether in society as a whole or in our education system. Part of that task was understanding the argument put forward by the extremists. Asked by Sky what the difference between spying and monitoring was, the PMOS said that it was, for example, knowing the likely arguments put forward by Sky and preparing a defence against them. That was not spying it was common sense monitoring.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Northern Ireland

Asked if tomorrow was the first time that Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley had sat around the same table for talks, the PMOS said that they had sat at the same table at Stormont, and at St. Andrews at a plenary session. The difference this time was that this was the committee that was preparing for the restoration of Government, and there would be discussion through the Chair. At the two previous occasions mentioned, people made statements, not a discussions.

Asked if the Prime Minister had had a meeting with Gerry Adams, the PMOS replied that we were keeping in touch with all the parties. Obviously, as we moved forward, people would be very conscious of the deadline of the 10th November to signal their agreement, and therefore, the discussions were part of that on-going process.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Peerages Police Inquiry

Asked why Nigel Griffiths had said that the CPS had said there was not sufficient evidence to proceed when the position at No10 was not to comment, the PMOS said that he suspected that this had followed the Financial Times report. The journalist was right about Downing Street position, which was not to comment on any ongoing Police investigations. This had been our position throughout this particular situation. Asked whether the Prime Minister had been invited to speak to the Police, the PMOS thanked the journalist for the opportunity to answer and the answer remained no. Asked whether any others in No10 had, the PMOS said that he had nothing new to say on that subject either, which if journalists had done their own monitoring would know was also consistent with what he had been saying all along.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked if the Prime Minister agreed that the teaching assistant at the centre of the current debate regarding the wearing of veils should be sacked, the PMOS replied that what the Prime Minister believed was that there was a debate going on, and that these were matters which should be resolved locally.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Nuclear Power

Put that British Energy had shut down two reactors because they had cracks in the boilers and had this had an effect of the government's nuclear policy, the PMOS that we relied on the view of scientific experts and he would not pretend to be one of those experts. The general view of the experts was that the public was safeguarded. In regard of the case in question he was not an expert to comment on it.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Naval contribution to UN Forces

Asked to confirm if the UK would be making a Naval contribution to the UN forces, the PMOS replied that there was a discussion going on at the UN, and that discussion should be allowed to take place. This would be a matter for the UN to decide how it enforced the sanctions.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

British Airways

Asked for a response to the passengers on the British Airways flight sixteen years ago in Kuwait and for which there was now a call for a public enquiry in a letter from Norman Baker, the PMOS replied that we would wait for that letter from Norman Baker, and then we would reply.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (3)

Faith Schools

Asked if Alan Johnson's move on quotas for faith schools amounted to a change in heart by the Government, the PMOS replied that he was not going to get into the detail of it, as it was for the department to make their announcement. People would have noticed that we welcomed the Church of England's announcement last week to make a quarter of their places in their schools available to non-Church pupils. In general, we supported an extension of that principle.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

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