Asked for further clarification about Lord Levy's travel arrangements, and the FCO's role with regards to Lord Levy, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that Lord Levy travelled at his own expense, and received no remuneration on expenses. The FCO provided logistic support, including on occasion, official accommodation overseas. The FCO provided an office in London and one member of FCO staff to provide support services.
Asked for the Prime Minister's reaction to this morning's terror raids in Birmingham, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) replied that a major counter-terrorism operation had taken place earlier today led by West Midlands Police in which 8 arrests had been made. The Home Secretary was fully briefed on the operation and was receiving regular updates as developments occurred.
Asked if the Prime Minister had any more thoughts on the developments in the Midlands on today's terror raids, the PMOS said that the police had warned people that this was a live investigation, and therefore, everyone had to be very careful about what we said, and we also had to be careful about what we said in view of the possibility that there might be a trial at some stage. There would be a time and a place for Government comment, but this was not it at this stage.
Asked to clarify Lord Levy's role and title, the PMOS replied that Lord Levy remained the Prime Minister's Middle East envoy. The journalist was pointed to the Prime Minister's remarks in Ramallah in December, which summed up why the Prime Minister believed that Lord Levy fulfilled a valuable role. But we would not be providing a running commentary on details such as who he had met. Asked further on Lord Levy's role, the PMOS replied that the role was one of engaging people involved in the Middle East and the Middle East Peace Process. As the Prime Minister had said in Ramallah, in a very difficult situation we relied on people who could talk to all sides. Lord Levy was one of those people.
Asked if the White paper on the House of Lords reform would be put before Cabinet tomorrow, the PMOS replied that it was.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had received assurances from Sinn Fein that they would demonstrate on the street that they were signed up to supporting the police, the PMOS set out what had happened so far. Firstly there had been the Ard Fheis motion; Secondly, Gerry Adams had said that anyone who was a victim of crime should go to the police; Gerry Adams had then gone on to say that if any Republican or Nationalist wanted to join the police, then Sinn Fein would support them in doing so. It terms of how we go forward, people expected the words to be translated into action. But people should recognise the significance of not just the leader of the Republican movement saying that victims of crime should go to the police, but also that young Nationalists and Republicans would be supported were they to choose to join the police. Those were two huge steps.
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