2018 World Cup
Asked whether there were any reservations in bidding for the 2018 World Cup given that the possible cost to host the 2012 Olympics could rise to £8billion, the PMOS replied that regarding the Olympic bid, we should wait until we had the facts on costs, as discussions were currently being held on this. Secondly, it was important that we put ourselves in a position to competitively bid for the 2018 World Cup and to host future major sporting events. We were keen to support the FA if they decided to bid to host the World Cup.
Asked if he still thought that e-petitions were a good idea, and what numbers would have to be reached before Government put its hand up and retreated, the PMOS replied that it was always a good idea when there was a lively political debate. We had always recognised that there was a lively debate around transport as it was an issue that directly affected people's lives. Therefore, the livelier the debate, the better. But the debate in itself would not produce a solution. The crucial point about this issue was that doing nothing was not an option. Congestion would get worse and worse if we did nothing. Therefore this was a debate that we needed to have. We had to be clear about the terms of the debate, as it was not about immediately stepping to a national pricing scheme. It was about setting up pilot schemes to find out the facts, and then to learn from these experiences, and then decide where we go. In that process we would not only educate ourselves in Government about how to deal with the issue of congestion, we would also hopefully educate the public as well. We recognised, and Douglas Alexander had recognised this from the start, that we needed to convince people with evidence, not just rhetoric. The way to find out the evidence was to have precisely the pilot schemes that we were having.
Asked for some more information about the Prime Minister's meeting with Chancellor Merkel on Tuesday, the PMOS replied that we supported Germany's agenda for the EU Presidency and the G8 and the talks would concentrate on the following areas:
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that cannabis use was a bar to becoming Prime Minister, the PMOS replied that the journalist was trying to invite him, not very subtly, into political debate. He may have lost his voice at Croke Park yesterday, but he had not entirely lost his mind.
Asked if Downing Street supported the American analysis regarding Iran and its attempts to destabilise Iraq, and was this the reason the Prime Minister had repeatedly warned that there was evidence of Iranian weapons in Iraq, the PMOS replied that going back to the Prime Minister's press conference held after the EU informal summit at Hampton Court in October 2005, the Prime Minister had spoken for the first time about our concerns about particular types of IED technology and weaponry that was coming in from Iran. Those concerns had not gone away at all. We certainly believed that if the Iranian Government wanted to address those concerns then it could, but we did not see any signs of that it did.
Put to him that President Karzai gave an interview over the weekend in which he said the UK needed to get off the fence and get tough with Pakistan about insurgency within Afghanistan, the PMOS that in the course of the Prime Minister's discussions with President Musharraf when he last visited and in their regular contacts, they had talked about the need to counter terrorism on both sides of the border. The Pakistani Government had made inroads into terrorism on its side of the border, but we obviously encouraged them to do more.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that flexible working should be extended to all workers, the PMOS replied that this was an issue where the Government had been at the forefront in terms of helping the development of flexible working. Again this needed to be something that we worked with employers and others on. There was a debate to be had here, so lets have the debate.
Asked if the Prime Minister was satisfied that the Home Office did not leak sensitive details of the Birmingham terror raids, the PMOS replied that John Reid had made this absolutely clear. His words spoke for themselves. Asked that if this was not the case, then where did the leaks come from, the PMOS replied that he had long since given up speculating as to who planted such stories. Asked if he believed that the police had leaked the stories, the PMOS again replied that he had long since given up speculating.
As no question had been asked, the PMOS let Lobby know that David Miliband would be holding a meeting this afternoon with senior officials, veterinary representatives, and representatives of the agencies. Priority number one would be to go over the process of how we had so far contained the disease. Secondly, to find out how the investigation was going into the root causes of the outbreak. And thirdly to liaise about the protection of public health, precisely the role that the Food Standards Agency was set up to achieve.
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