Act of the Union
Asked what events would be taking place tomorrow to mark the Act of the Union, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) replied that not so much for tomorrow, but there was a whole series of events ranging from a commemorative £2 coin that was launched on the 16th January, a historical exhibition starting in Westminster before going to the Scottish Parliament, and the Scottish Executive and agencies were also supporting a range of commemorative events. The fact that there was an election this week in Scotland had had its impact.
Operation Crevice Court Case
Asked to clarify John Reid's point that he rejected a public inquiry, but not necessarily an independent inquiry, the PMOS replied that firstly this court case should be recognised for what it was. It was a success. It was the prevention of a very serious set of attacks and as a result many lives had been saved. We should not jump from the fact that new evidence had now been made public, to the assumption that in some way 7/7 could have been prevented. The independent Intelligence Security Committee looked at this matter as part of the evidence for its report. Because of sub judice rules it could only refer indirectly to it when it published its report, but it did refer to it. Its Chairman Paul Murphy had made clear in a statement this afternoon that it had been kept fully abreast of any new information during the trial. He went on to say of the judgement they reached on prioritisation, that the decision was "understandable". And therefore he said today "I can confirm this judgement still stands. The fact that the July attacks were not prevented shows that there were and are clearly areas for improvement but overall the Committee found that there were no culpable failures by the Security and Intelligence Agencies. The conclusion of the trial today of those connected with the fertiliser bomb plot does not change that". John Reid was referring to the Prime Minister's belief that now that we had the full transcript from the court case, it should be gone through again just to make sure that nothing had changed yet again. But there had been an investigation that was carried out by the ISC, and it had come to the conclusion that it did - that the prioritisation was understandable.
Put to the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) that the Prime Minister, in his speech this morning, had poured cold water on the Chancellor's idea of a independent NHS board, the PMOS said that he had not heard what the Prime Minister had said but he thought the important thing was that all ideas are looked at. Put to the PMOS that the Prime Minister had said the Chancellor's idea would not work, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had expressed his own judgment in his own way as usual.
Act of Union/1707
Asked what the Prime Minister would be doing to mark the celebrations, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister would be in Scotland and other departments would announce what other Ministers would be doing.
Asked if the events in Turkey would put their bid to join the EU under threat, the PMOS said that it was an internal matter for Turkey and it was not for us to comment. We would watch developments but it was an internal matter for Turkey.
Asked if there was any comment on the events in Nigeria, the PMOS said that as indicated previously the overall conduct of the polls were disappointing but it was important to stress that in terms of the aftermath Nigeria still has a chance to set a good example. It was vital that all parties act in line with the constitution and there is a due process for dealing with electoral grievances within that constitution. We call on all the parties to find a peaceful and democratic way forward.
Asked if this week the PMOS could give an indication of when the Prime Minister would be announcing his departure as last week the PMOS had said last week that the Prime Minister would not be making an announcement this week, the PMOS said that it would be best to get through this week, then it was a Bank holiday next Monday then the reporter could ask again on Tuesday. Asked as that put it into May and would there be a monthly Prime Minister's press conference next week, the PMOS said that the only thing he knew about the next week was that it began, for the PMOS, next Tuesday with a very important event in Northern Ireland.
Asked how the Taoiseach was proposed to address both Houses, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister recommended it to the Speaker, it was then for the Speaker of both Houses to decide. The Speaker has agreed in recognition of the work done by the Taoiseach in the peace process. Asked if peers and members of Parliament had a say in the matter, the PMOS said it would be through the normal channels. Asked when the address would be, the PMOS confirmed it would be the 15th May 2007.
Asked if the Government would be responding to the Foreign Affairs Committee findings over the Attorney General's decision not to pursue a prosecution, the PMOS said the reasons behind the decision were precisely as we set out at the time. What was also important to note was that on 12th March 2007 the Secretary of State for International Development published a report on progress on the Government's anti-corruption action plan. That included a number of measures which strengthen our stance on anti corruption. None of that takes away from the basic judgment which the Attorney General said was his at the time which was that it was, in his view, unlikely there would be a successful prosecution as well as the other reasons set out at the time.
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