Asked about the Independent story today about doctors' letters to the Prime Minister regarding children dying in Iraqi hospitals due to a lack of equipment, and lawyers had said that the UK was in breach of the Geneva Convention, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the best thing was for us to study the letter and to reply.
China Missile Test
Asked what our reaction was to the Chinese Missile test, the PMOS replied that we had discussed this matter with the Chinese authorities earlier this week. We had concerns about the impact in space from the debris, and we had expressed that concern.
Basra base attack
Put that the Chancellor in India had urged people to "vote for tolerance" by voting out Jade Goody, and was that an opinion shared by No10, the PMOS replied that he had said all he had to say on the subject of Big Brother this week. If people remembered yesterday, the PMOS had said that we took the issue of any perception of racism very seriously, which was why we wanted the message to go out loud and clear. There was also, however, a process for complaint, and given that process and OFCOM's role in that, it was wrong for the Prime Minister to become more involved in that. It was for other people to express their views, and that was perfectly proper, but for the Prime Minister, it was right that we left it to OFCOM.
Asked if the EU Constitution could be changed without a referendum from the UK, the PMOS replied that as he had said earlier in the week, there was a situation where a joint Presidency was beginning, and no doubt, there would be proposals at some stage. However, we were at the beginning of a Presidency, and we were not at the point where proposals were going forward. The best thing to do, therefore, was to take this step by step. The PMOS said that we needed to deal with the facts as and when they happened.
Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with Patricia Hewitt who said that with hindsight, it might have been better to cap the amount of money that GPs could get out of their contract, the PMOS replied that the DoH had not summarised her words in the same way as the BBC had. The important thing was that in the past, we had said that neither ourselves, nor the BMA, had anticipated that GPs would take up this ball in quite the way that they had. GPs were delivering better services to their patients, and were doing so on a daily basis. The contract had been signed this year, and that had meant that there was better services, and GPs were putting more back into those services.
Condoleezza Rice Meeting
Asked if the Prime Minister had received any impression from his meeting with Dr. Rice last night that she was right to believe there was now a desire for progress from both Israel and Palestine, the PMOS said that from our own experience when we visited the region before Christmas that we did believe that there was a willingness to move forward in what were admittedly difficult circumstances. Therefore, what we would continue to try to do would be to identify ways in which we could help that process. It was a process that needed the engagement, not just from ourselves and the US, but also from the international community as a whole.
Prince of Wales
Put that David Miliband had criticised the Prince of Wales for flying to New York, suggesting that the carbon emissions would be too excessive and maybe the Prince should think about using a video link, and was that something that No10 would agree with as a principle, the PMOS replied that it was something that should be dealt with by both the Prince of Wales' office and David Miliband's office.
Ruth Turner – Addition as at 1430 on Friday 19 January 2007
In response to telephone inquiries posed by journalists regarding the arrest of the Prime Minister's Director of Government relations, the PMS issued the following statement from the Prime Minister:
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