» Monday, April 5, 2004

Update from DowningStreetSays: Easter Recess

There are no more daily briefings until 19th April.

Briefing took place at 14:50 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

PM Event

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman told journalists that the Prime Minister would join Sir John Stevens and Ken Livingstone this afternoon for the launch of the Metropolitan Police's Safer Neighbourhoods programme. The programme was about teams of police officers who would be dedicated full time to particular neighbourhoods. As such it represented a step change in the way London was policed, increasing police presence, local accountability and tackling local fear of crime. The Prime Minister would also use the event to highlight the introduction of new police powers contained in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to take fingerprint and DNA samples with or without consent of people arrested and detained by police regardless of whether or not they were subsequently prosecuted. He would also confirm in his remarks that he had asked the Home Office to examine whether local police should be able to drug to test for heroin and cocaine all those they arrested for offences which were seen as being driven by drugs misuse such as theft and burglary.

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

Cross-Government Meeting on Immigration

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman reminded journalists that where the government recognised there was a problem, as with asylum, it would rationally address that problem and that was why the Prime Minister was chairing a cross-governmental meeting on immigration tomorrow. It would bring together in a stocktake the Prime Minister; the Home Secretary, David Blunkett; Ministers from Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Work and Pensions. The Attorney General would attend, to ensure that consideration was given to issues of law, as well as representatives from the security services that tackle organised crime. The PMOS said that tomorrow's aim was to identify the problems and the concerns, to define those concerns and produce a work programme that could be considered at future regular meetings, also to be chaired by the PM, but it was the Home Secretary who would drive forward that work programme between meetings. The PMOS said that the Prime Minister was determined not to let abuses of the system poison the whole idea of managed migration, which brought enormous benefits to the country. Immigrants to this country made up 8% of the population, but contributed 10% of the total wealth. They contributed £2.5bn more than they used in public services and that fact should not be lost sight of. They were doctors; nurses; au pairs; registered electricians and plumbers. The CBI, businesses and unions all recognised that in a country where there was virtually full employment but where there was still half a million job vacancies that the economy needed managed economic migration. In answer to questions about the origin of these figures the PMOS referred journalist to the Home Office. Asked when the meeting had been arranged the PMOS said that it was arranged at the back end of last week.

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

ID Cards

Asked to clarify the situation with ID cards the PMOS said that the decision last November was that what should be worked on was resolving the logistical questions that remained, this was what Patricia Hewitt had been referring to yesterday and that was what the government was doing. As the Prime Minister had acknowledged last week there were still logistical questions to be resolved and those would be worked on, but at the same time the government would publish a draft bill, in this parliamentary session and parliament would be able to have it's say. In answer to further questions about a change of pace in response to the latest terrorist attacks and various timings the PMOS said it was best not to speculate on timings in these circumstances, the basic process had not changed so it was best to wait for the draft bill. The PMOS said that what the Prime Minister had recognised was that there was an issue here that was being addressed in the light of outrages such as Madrid and the threat posed to this country. That was why the issue had been placed on the agenda in November and why it was being addressed in the way it was now.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (20)

Iraq/War on Terror

Asked about the suggestion that the Prime Minister agreed in principle to a war on Iraq just after September 11th the PMOS said he had nothing new to add, but of course Iraq was an issue that as you would expect it came up in conversations not just with President Bush but also with his predecessor. But equally it had been made clear, and it was the government's position the whole way through that if possible we had wanted to resolve the issue through the UN. As the Prime Minister had said at the time in his Sedgefield Press Conference, the UN was the way to deal with the issue, but equally it was not the way to avoid it. If possible we would have preferred to have dealt with it through the UN, but in the end that had not been possible. In response to further questioning the PMOS politely declined to offer any further commentary on specific allegations.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (16)

Outsourcing UK Jobs

Asked about the Prime Minister's views were of efforts being made to discourage firms from outsourcing jobs to overseas the PMOS said he wasn't sure if the journalist was referring to a specific case but the Prime Minister had made it clear that in a global era protectionism was not the answer, what you needed to do was train the workforce to compete in that global market. That was why the Government had invested in education and work based training and why it had encouraged reform and carried out reform in those areas as well. It was only with a skilled workforce that you could compete in the global market. This also meant being able to use the skills of those who came here to work to ensure that companies here remained competitive and had the right skills to address the global challenge.

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

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