» Tuesday, February 24, 2004


Asked if the Government was ignoring the remarks made this morning by the Libyan Prime Minister regarding both the murder of Wpc Yvonne Fletcher and the Lockerbie bombing, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said of course not. As he had stated at this morning's briefing, we would be seeking clarification from the Libyan authorities in the light of the fact that paragraph 3 of their letter to the UN showed clearly that they had accepted responsibility for Lockerbie and had agreed to pay compensation to relatives of the victims of the atrocity. Equally, as the Libyan Foreign Minister had said during his visit to the UK earlier this month, Libya wanted to work in close co-operation with the British Government on the Yvonne Fletcher issue. Indeed, following the general admission of responsibility in 1999 for her murder, Libya had agreed to pay compensation to her family. Asked how the British Government would be seeking clarification, the PMOS said that it would be done through the usual channels.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

PM speech

Asked if the Prime Minister had been indicating in his speech today that he was thinking about changing the structure of Ministerial portfolios so that Ministers would be able to work outside their Departments, the PMOS congratulated the journalist on posing such a cleverly disguised reshuffle question. On a more general point, the Prime Minister believed that certain issues - such as street crime, drugs and migration - cut across departmental boundaries, which meant that they were not capable of being dealt with purely within departmental silos. As the Prime Minister had said in his speech, we had to find a way to manage such projects, as was common practice within large organisations. The trick, in relation to the civil service, was how to do so while at the same time maintaining parliamentary accountability.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)


In answer to questions about the legality of the measures on migration announced yesterday by the Home Secretary, the PMOS said that the proposals had been made for the reasons that had been stated and we were confident about their legality. As a result of our strong economy, it was important to recognise that the UK was in a position to welcome genuine migrants who intended to work. At the same time, as stated yesterday, we were addressing the concerns being expressed about so-called 'benefit shopping' and the issue of those who came to the UK but failed to find work.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Civil Service speech

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) previewed the Prime Minister's speech on the Civil Service. The speech would mark the 150th Anniversary of the Northcote-Trevelyan Report which laid down the foundations of the present Civil Service. The Prime Minister would pay tribute to the 'enduring values' of the Civil Service - integrity, impartiality and merit. He would say that the question for the Civil Service in our generation was how to sustain those values whilst bringing about the radical transformation our times demanded. As with the NHS, Education and the Criminal Justice system, "the world has changed and the Civil Service must change with it." That would mean a change in the balance between the traditional focus on policy advice towards the need for delivery, focusing on outcomes and not working in traditional departmental silos: "A change of operation and of culture that goes to the core of the Civil Service" following the example of the Department of Health where the centre was becoming a more strategic operation with greater use of professional expertise. "The goal is a transformed Civil Service, capable of serving Governments of any colour in the era of Globalisation. We need a Civil Service which aims to amplify the implementation of successful change rather than, as in the past, act a shock absorber in order to maintain the status quo."

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Asylum Statistics

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Guantanamo Bay

Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with David Blunkett who had said today that the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay had not had a fair, open, transparent treatment, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister and the Government had made clear its reservations. At the same time we had worked with the American authorities for a resolution of these problems and continued to do so.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

BBC Licence Fees

Asked if the Prime Minister was still committed to Licence Fees as a way of funding the BBC, the PMOS referred journalists to what Tessa Jowell had said previously. She had said that it would be improbable if not impossible to find an alternative. That remained the position. These were matters which were considered as part of the Charter Review, as they were with every Charter Review, so that was nothing new.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (3)

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