» Thursday, March 15, 2007

Police Inquiry

Asked whether John Yates had written to the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) said she was not aware of any such letter. Asked the usual police question, the PMS said no. Asked whether there was any response to the continuing investigation, as the Prime Minister had said he hoped the investigation would wrap up as soon as possible, the PMS said we had always been clear that timing of the investigation was solely a matter for the police. Asked whether there was a change to the timing of when the Prime Minister left office, as he had always said he did not want to leave office until this matter had been resolved, the PMS said again the timing was a matter for the police, and she would not get drawn into saying anything further on the matter.

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

Forthcoming Business

The Leader said that, on Monday, March 19, the debate would be: second reading of the Consumer, Estate Agents and Redress Bill [Lords] (Ian McCartney and Jim Fitzpatrick for the Government), followed by a motion to approve a Ways and Means Resolution on the UK Borders Bill. On Tuesday, March 20: a debate on the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade on a motion for the Adjournment of the House (John Prescott and Meg Munn). Wednesday, March 21 - Chancellor of the Exchequer: Budget Statement; Thursday, March 22 - Continuation of the Budget debate David Miliband and John Healey); Friday, March 23 -Private Members Bills.

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

Oral Statements/Prior Notice

Mr Straw said that, in a written Ministerial Statement earlier, he had announced that the Commons Order Paper in future would contain notice of oral statements being made. Where a Minister had indicated an intention to make an oral statement, the practice would be that this would appear as "future business" of the House and on the specific day's Order Paper. There was one caveat - some statements might have to be withdrawn at very short notice after they had been listed. The new process was intended to be helpful to the House and the media.

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

Trident Debate/Vote

Asked for his reaction to the outcome of the debate yesterday, he referred to the views he had expressed earlier during Business Questions in relation to attitudes within his party. It was not just a defence and security issue but, in many people's eyes, one of conscience and morality. He referred to his experiences on an Aldermaston march when he was a teenager. Mr Straw said that some people were straightforwardly unilateralist. But he did not share the view of those who, while not taking the unilateralist stance, said it was appropriate to give up the successor to Trident.

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

Party Funding Review/Statement

The Leader was asked what he thought the chances were of cross-party agreement and the position of the trade unions in relation to funding. Mr Straw said that, if the parties entered into the proposed discussions in a constructive spirit, where no party should have a veto over the outcome of the talks and each party took into account the circumstances of the others, then he believed an agreement could be reached. He then referred to comments he had made in the course of exchanges on his earlier oral statement on the report by Sir Hayden Phillips. Specifically, he commented on the Opposition's views previously on trade union funding, including the historical background. The Leader said that the Government would sit down with other parties and Sir Hayden to discuss all aspects of the report.

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

House of Lords Reform/Peers Vote

The Leader was asked if he was tempted to abandon any hope of compromise between both Houses after last night's votes, and whether the Parliament Act could be used to force the will of the Commons to prevail. Mr Straw said it was "one step at a time", in the words of the hymn. The Government would take account of the votes in the House of Lords, pointing out that the total in support of an elected element was more than he had thought they would be. He had indicated a desire to reconvene cross-party talks. The Leader said that the Parliament Act existed and, if the Commons had the will, it operated automatically, but they were not at that position yet.

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

Zimbabwe Debate

Asked if he saw a case for Foreign Office Ministers swiftly altering their diaries to enable a Commons debate on the situation, Mr Straw said he agreed that there should be a debate. Both Margaret Beckett and Ian McCartney wanted it, but it was difficult to change engagements already in Ministers' diaries. The Leader said it was essential now that the regional partners of Zimbabwe, particularly South Africa, recognised the gravity of the situation and acted accordingly. Asked what they should do, he said that they should take steps to further isolate and put pressure on the Mugabe regime. It was now beyond the fraternal feelings of former freedom fighters.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Prime Minister’s Written Ministerial Statement

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesmen (PMOS) told journalists that the Prime Minister's statement on party funding would say:

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (3)


Asked what had been discussed in Cabinet, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that Cabinet was a preview of Sir Hayden Phillips' report, as well as a policy review discussion, following on from last week. This week, it was on crime and security issues.

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


Asked if there had been any reflections following on from the Trident vote last night, the PMOS said there had not been.

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

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