» Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Germany and Africa Progress Panel

Asked if the Prime Minister had just arrived in Germany, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) confirmed this and added that the Prime Minister had just gone into the Africa Progress Panel meeting, this would then be followed by a press conference with Chancellor Merkel, Kofi Annan and the Prime Minister. There will then be the separate bilateral and dinner between the Prime Minister and Chancellor Merkel.

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

Security and Terrorism and Committee

Asked if the PMOS could offer some assurances that it was a coincidence that on the same day of the first Security and Terrorism Committee there had been several arrests in counter terror raids, the PMOS, as he had said this morning, that the timing of the arrests, the decision to make the arrests was entirely an operational matter and nothing to do with Ministers or Government. Therefore it is not for the PMOS, in any way, to comment on those arrests. The timing of the meeting this morning was a matter for Government and that was set in the diary after the announcement on 29th March.

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

Security and Terrorist Committee Meeting

Asked for further details about the Security and Terrorist Committee meeting, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) told journalists that as people knew, this had come about as a result of the package of measures announced on 29th March to strengthen our ability and capabilities to deal international terrorism. The Committee would meet monthly, and it would be chaired by the Prime Minister, and attended by the Home Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, as well as senior police and other agency representatives. It was obviously a way of ensuring that we responded across the board in the right way to the ongoing serious terrorist threat. Today's meeting would receive an assessment of the current threat from the new Director General of the Security Service, and it would agree a work programme to look at international terrorism and linkages to the UK, as well as the struggle of values and ideas. It would keep under review the need for any new legislation. The PMOS said that obviously given the nature of the work, there would not be a running commentary each month.

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

EU Treaty

Asked why the Prime Minister was so determined to avoid a referendum on the constitution, the PMOS said that he recognised that the question was a Daily Telegraph way of putting things, and the journalist may not be surprised if the PMOS answered in a different way! The view of the Prime Minister, the Dutch Prime Minister, and we believed of other leaders as well, although they would speak for themselves, was that Europe needed to move forward from the internal debate about its organisation. This was essentially what this had been about, and it needed to take action on the issues such as energy, trade liberalisation which mattered to ordinary citizens. The Prime Minister believed the Dutch and French referendum results, clearly underlined that there was not going to be a quick consensus on an EU constitution that had all the characteristics of a constitution. What the Prime Minister believed, however, that it was possible to get agreement on the practical issues that Europe needed to address if it was to work successfully as a Europe of 27, rather than a Europe of 15. Those practical issues would contribute to an amending treaty, such as those we had seen in the past which did not require referenda.

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

Africa Progress Panel Meeting

Asked what policies were being discussed and what did we hope would come out of the Africa meetings, the PMOS said that there would be an inaugural meeting of the Africa Progress Panel (APP). The idea between the APP was that Gleneagles genuinely was a landmark for Africa, but what we needed to ensure was that both sides of the equation lived up to the commitments that they made at Gleneagles. The African nations had to deliver on governance, fighting corruption, support for the Africa Union training troops and that the donor countries delivered on their overall aid levels to Africa, as well as specific issues such as countering HIV/AIDS. There had been real progress in terms of Africa, but we needed to see that delivered within the timescale that was set out at Gleneagles which was up to 2010. If people looked two years on from Gleneagles, the increases in global aid were up from $79 billion in 2005 to $103.9 billion this year. Aid to Africa was up by $10 billion. Those figures included significant levels of debt relief, especially to Nigeria and Iraq, but even without taking into account that debt relief, aid was still up from the Gleneagles baseline. If the debt relief was taken out, global aid was up by $8 billion, and aid to Africa by $2 billion. The PMOS said that we had seen real progress, but we needed to have a mechanism that drove that through to 2010, and this was what the APP would do.

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

Bin collections

Asked if the Prime Minister would mind having his bins collected fortnightly, rather than weekly, the PMOS said that this was a matter for local authorities, and he was sorry to disappoint the Daily Mail.

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

Boris Yeltsin

Asked who would be our representative to Boris Yeltsin's funeral, the PMOS replied that it was not yet decided.

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

Chairman of Committee on Standards in Public Life

Asked who would be the Interim Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the PMOS said that it would be Rita Donaghy whilst we waited for the report from the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) on ethics and standards. We would not express a view until we had seen the PASC report.

Put that was it not strange to wait for a Select Committee to publish their report before implementing what the position was, the PMOS said that if it was the other way round, he could write the Standard's piece: "The Government today ignored the views of members of Parliament"! The PMOS said that he knew that journalists were paid to have their cake and eat it, but that was "pretty rich cake".

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

Freedom of Information Bill

Asked if the Prime Minister had a view on the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill, the PMOS replied that it was the Government's position as this was a matter for Parliament.

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

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