» Monday, January 29, 2007

Adoption

Asked what had led the Prime Minister to believe that he would not lose the expertise and services referred to in the last sentence of his statement, after 2008 once the transition period was over, the PMOS replied that as he had said this morning, we had been in discussion with both the churches and the gay rights groups and we believed that this was a sensible compromise. What it tried to do was strike the balance between ensuring the principle of no discrimination was upheld, and giving people the time and the space to ensure that those who were already in the adoption process, including pre and post adoption, were catered for. It also gave the adoption agencies that were affected, the time to decide how they would ensure the best interests of the children whilst finding a way to act in accordance with their position. The most important thing was that this gave a period of time but also in terms of the independent assessment panel, which would be appointed by the Prime Minister, it gave an overview that could then be used as a body of best practice that people could then consult. Everybody had started this discussion saying that what motivated them was the best interests of the children.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Northern Ireland

Put to the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) that the DUP had said that they needed to see evidence on the ground on policing, and how much time did that leave the Prime Minister, the PMOS said that what the Prime Minister had said was that people in Northern Ireland would watch to see words being translated into reality. How and when was a matter for Sinn Fein, so people should wait for them to say some more. Everybody equally knew that that the reality was that an executive Government would only be formed on the 26th March if two things happened. One was that the words had been translated into action, and the second was that the DUP committed to power sharing. Everybody knew what the parameters were, so we had to see how things moved forward. What that should not take away from was the genuinely historic significance of yesterday's event. Anyone familiar with the history of Northern Ireland knew the significance of Republicans saying that they would support the police service in Northern Ireland. The PMOS said that it might seem normal in the rest of the UK; in Northern Ireland it had not been normal for all sections of the public to support the police. It now looked as though it would be, and that spoke for itself.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Northern Ireland

Put to the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) that the DUP had said that they needed to see evidence on the ground on policing, and how much time did that leave the Prime Minister, the PMOS said that what the Prime Minister had said was that people in Northern Ireland would watch to see words being translated into reality. How and when was a matter for Sinn Fein, so people should wait for them to say some more. Everybody equally knew that that the reality was that an executive Government would only be formed on the 26th March if two things happened. One was that the words had been translated into action, and the second was that the DUP committed to power sharing. Everybody knew what the parameters were, so we had to see how things moved forward. What that should not take away from was the genuinely historic significance of yesterday's event. Anyone familiar with the history of Northern Ireland knew the significance of Republicans saying that they would support the police service in Northern Ireland. The PMOS said that it might seem normal in the rest of the UK; in Northern Ireland it had not been normal for all sections of the public to support the police. It now looked as though it would be, and that spoke for itself.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Adoption

Asked if the Prime Minister had any plans this week to meet with Catholic Archbishops to discuss the adoption issues, the PMOS replied that we had been in constant contact with all those involved. We understood the very real and genuine work that the Catholic adoption agencies did, especially with those children who were hard to place. As the head of the adoption council said last week, that was work that was not just measured in terms of getting someone adopted, but it was also about the aftercare that went on for quite some time afterwards. As the Prime Minister had said in his statement, that was part of the reason why we did want to find a way that did not disrupt that role.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Community Cohesion

Asked what the Prime Minister's reaction was to the poll today regarding young Muslims' the PMOS replied that if people looked at the Prime Minister's speech on 8th December 2006, what he said was that in the UK, there was a right to be different for communities, but also, a duty to integrate. On Wednesday, Ruth Kelly would announce grants to local authorities to help with community cohesion activities. That was precisely the sort of work that we were now engaged in. It was also why we had set up the Commission on Integration and Cohesion which would report in June. It was also why the Local Government White Paper published recently made clear that building cohesion and tackling extremism is not an optional extra for local authorities but must be at the heart of their role. It was an issue that we took very seriously, and it was one that the Prime Minister had been thinking about for some time.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Middle East

Put that on Friday, the Quartet was meeting in Washington for a Ministerial meeting, and was the Prime Minister going to be involved, the PMOS said that with regards to the Quartet, the Prime Minister was not going. In terms of overall involvement in the Middle East and in talking to people, the Prime Minister was involved.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Police Inquiry/No10 computers

Asked by the BBC's Political Editor about the Sunday Telegraph story and the ITV denial from No10 and what was it Downing Street was denying, the PMOS said that the journalist had to put to him what it was that he wanted the PMOS to deny.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)

Prisons/Home Office split

Asked if the Prime Minister accepted the Government miscalculated prison places as set out in the 2003 Act, the PMOS said that the Government had built nearly 20,000 extra places. HM Prison Kennett opened in Merseyside today, which could hold up to 350 prisoners. In terms of the 2003 Act, that was also about reducing the length of some sentences, as well as increasing others. It was getting the balance right that was important. Nobody was pretending that it was not tough, as it was. That was precisely why we had asked for another 8000 places.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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