» Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Police Inquiry

Put by ITN's Political Editor that last week they had reported that the police investigation for the honours inquiry had discovered in their investigation that there was a second computer system used by senior Downing Street officials, and we had issued a statement saying the story was untrue, but it now seemed clear that some senior Labour Party officials in No10 did use a separate system, and did we now want to amend our statement, and were we aware of that some people in No10 used that second system when we made our earlier statement, the PMOS asked the journalist what evidence did he have that some officials did use a second system. The journalist replied that he did not have evidence, but that it "seemed clear" that some people did. The PMOS said that it was wrong. The PMOS said that people had to start questioning who had supplied the information, and why, as it was wrong.

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

Northern Ireland

Asked for further information on the Prime Minister's talks with Bertie Ahern this evening, the PMOS said that where we were today was different from where we were yesterday. What had changed was that Gerry Adams had unequivocally said that if someone was a victim of crime in Northern Ireland, they should now go to the police. That was a significant advance by any terms in the history of Northern Ireland. What we now had to do, and the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister would have to consider this, was reach a decision on going ahead with the elections on the basis that those elections would be to a power sharing executive being set up by 26th March, with everyone in that executive fully supporting the police. The PMOS said that we were significantly further forward as a result of the clarity and lack of equivocation in Mr Adams' statement.

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

Prime Minister’s meeting with Monsieur Sarkozy

Asked if it was usual for the Prime Minister to meet with visiting politicians who were on a campaign tour, the PMOS replied that we had met many politicians who were in the process of elections, and Monsieur Sarkozy was still the French Interior Minister. The PMOS added that if Ségolène Royal wanted to come to London to meet the Prime Minister, the PMOS was sure that he would be happy to meet her as well.

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

E-Petitions

The PMOS told journalists that today, the millionth person had signed an e-petition in a process that had only begun in November, which showed that it was very popular with the public. Petitions had always played an important part in Downing Street, and this was simply a different format in which to do it. It creates an opportunity to listen to what people had to say, to reply, and then to engage in dialogue. What it did not automatically guarantee was a change in policy, as sometimes, there were issues such as road pricing where people had strong views, but strong views did not necessarily equal a solution to congestion. People's views would be taken into account, but a decision had to be made as well.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (12)

» 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)

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