» Thursday, December 7, 2006

Middle East

Asked when the Prime Minister was going to the Middle East, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) replied that he was not going to give out details to people. The Prime Minister had said that he would go before the end of the year, and it was important that we maintained the momentum and keep it moving forward. Since we had last visited the region, there had been the ceasefire, which was important, and there had also been a very significant speech from Prime Minister Olmert, as well as the debate that was still going on within the Palestinian leadership. The important thing was, however, was that we maintained the momentum, and that we built on the work done by the Iraq Study Group (ISG) report.

Briefing took place at 7:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Forthcoming Business

The Leader said that, on Monday, December 11, the House would debate the second reading of the Offender Management Bill (John Reid and Gerry Sutcliffe speaking for the Government), followed by proceedings on the Consolidated Fund Bill. On Tuesday, December 12, there would be the second reading of the Greater London Authority Bill (Yvette Cooper). Remaining business for the week would be: December 13 - second reading of the Justice and Security [Northern Ireland] Bill (Peter Hain and Paul Goggins); December 14 - a debate on Fisheries on a motion for the Adjournment of the House (Ben Bradshaw). On Friday, December 15, the House would not be sitting. Provisional business for the following week - Monday, December 18, the House would debate second reading of the Digital Switchover (Disclosure of Information) Bill (Tessa Jowell and Shaun Woodward) and, on December 19, there would be a debate on a motion on the Christmas Recess Adjournment (Nigel Griffiths).

Briefing took place at 7:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

House of Lords reform

Asked to indicate the envisaged timetable, Mr Straw said that the Government's response to the Joint Committee on Conventions, chaired by Lord Cunningham, was due before Christmas. It would be followed by a debate on it in the House of Lords where part of the outcome would be a Message to the House of Commons on the conclusion of the Upper House. MPs would then debate it, provisionally, during the first few weeks after the recess.
The Leader mentioned that cross-party group was meeting on the issue of the future composition. He hoped that there could be a White Paper by the end of January or early February, followed by a free vote on composition two or three weeks later, to enable time for it to be digested.
The Government, at that stage, would have to make a judgement whether there was a sufficient consensus to proceed, quite quickly, with a Bill or whether it drew breath. The Leader said that the Joint Committee had managed to achieve a consensus and its report had described the conventions of the relationship between the Houses in greater detail. The issue had been discussed within the cross-party talks.

Briefing took place at 7:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Iraq Study Group/Commons statement

The Leader, in response to a question, said that he had not rejected an Opposition request for a statement next week on the ISG report. He pointed out that he had told MPs during Business Questions earlier today that he could not promise a statement.

Briefing took place at 7:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


He was asked about the contents of his latest column in his local newspaper. The Leader explained that a number of Muslim friends had indicated to him their irritation that, because of their belonging to a different religion, the implication was they were likely to be against celebrating Christmas. Mr Straw said that it was as much part of their culture as it was for Christians. He had wanted to make the point about the way in which the three religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - were intertwined.

Briefing took place at 7:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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