» Friday, April 20, 2007

Forthcoming Business

The Leader announced that business for next week would be: Monday, April 23 - second reading of the Finance Bill (Dawn Primarolo and Ed Balls, for the Government); Tuesday, April 24 - Opposition Day (9th Allotted Day): debate entitled "Modernising Medical Careers" (Patricia Hewitt), followed by a debate entitled "The Future of Local Government" (Ruth Kelly and Phil Woolas), with both debates arising on an Opposition motion; Wednesday, April 25 - a motion relating to the Crossrail Bill (Tom Harris); followed by - the Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed Private Business for consideration; Thursday, April 26 - a debate on "Defence in the UK" on a motion for the adjournment of the House (Adam Ingram and Derek Twigg); Friday, April 27 - Private Members Bill.

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

Private Members Bill/Freedom of Information Act

The Leader, asked if he supported the intention of the Bill before MPs for debate tomorrow to exempt both Houses from the Act, said that the Government did not have a formal position on the measure. He pointed out that the issue had been the subject of considerable debate when the original White Paper had been published in 1997. It had proposed that Parliament should be exempted. Pressed on why the Government had not sought to block the Bill at an earlier stage, Mr Straw repeated that it was a matter for Parliament. Asked for his personal view, he again stated that it was for Parliament. He said he would not be present for any vote on the Bill. He then went on to explain the procedural issues for debating a Private Members Bill.

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

Helen Liddell/Iraq

Mr Straw was asked if Iraq was part of the war on terror. Responding, he recalled the motion passed by the House on March 18, 2003 - and the case which both he and the Prime Minister had made - in respect of the threat, as UN Resolution 1441 had stated, to international peace and security posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the long-range missile systems and the Iraq's failure to comply with UN resolutions. He said that what had happened subsequently was that the population in Iraq had been subjected to terrible terrorist attacks, as witnessed by yesterday's tragic events. Asked for his view of the Prime Minister's comment that Iraq was now in the front line of terror, he said he agreed with the explanation given by the PMOS at an earlier briefing today.

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

Avian flu/compensation

Asked to explain his earlier comments about compensation to be paid to turkey producer Bernard Matthews, Mr Straw said that the system gave people rights under the law on a fair basis. The reason why compensation generally was paid in respect of the slaughter of animals was because farmers would otherwise lose their livelihood and also because farmers would have no excuse against reporting diseases which could lead to an epidemic. If the questioner was asking whether he personally was uncomfortable with the specific compensation, Mr Straw repeated the comments he had made in the House earlier.

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

Portcullis House flagpole

The Leader expanded on his earlier comments about action he had taken to ensure that the Union flag could be flown above the building. He personally inspected the location of the pole yesterday after being told that it was dangerous to do so. Mr Straw explained why that was the case and it could result in a person placing the flag on the pole being decapitated by the access hatch. Some modest safety measures were now being taken to resolve the problem. Asked if he saw that as his legacy, he replied, amid laughter, that he did not. He said that Portcullis House, like all buildings which had been over-budget and over-time, was magnificent. The flying of the specific flag was not a matter for him.

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


The Leader described the progress towards the formation of an Executive in Northern Ireland on May 8 as astonishing. He made further comments in response to questions of a party political nature in respect of forthcoming elections in Britain.

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

EU Referendum

Asked if some were right in thinking that the Prime Minister had not said anything new about the EU referendum overnight, the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) said that she was somewhat surprised at the level of interest this morning, as it was similar to what was said on Monday and Tuesday. The Prime Minister had put forward the view that he had set out with the Dutch Prime Minister that the treaty we would be proposing would be a different kind of treaty, in that it was an amending, rather than a constitutional treaty.

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

Police Inquiry


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

Freedom of Information Act

Asked if the Government was concerned that if David McLean's Bill went through, it might undermine the Freedom of Information legislation, the PMS replied that as the Leader of the House had made clear yesterday, this was a Parliamentary issue for Parliament to discuss, and we did not think it appropriate for the Government to stand in the way of such a debate. The PMS added that she was not going to get into a clearly hypothetical question.

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

Postal Voting

Put that some councils were concerned that the technology for checking the new postal votes was not going to work, and was there concern that there might be delays or disruptions at the elections, the PMS said that this was something that the relevant department would look into it.

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

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