» Thursday, May 6, 2004

John Scarlett

Asked if Downing Street would agree with the Opposition's suggestion that John Scarlett's appointment as Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) was 'inappropriate' since his promotion could be interpreted as pre-empting his exoneration by the Butler Inquiry, the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) said that Mr Scarlett's appointment, like all Civil Service appointments, had been made on merit. She also pointed out that the Butler Inquiry was not retracing the same steps as the Hutton Inquiry. As a press release on 12 February had made clear, the Inquiry would be focussing "principally on the structures, systems and processes, rather than on the actions of individuals".

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (11)

Oil Prices

Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned about rising oil prices, the PMS said that she had nothing further to add to what the Prime Minister had said about this matter in his joint press conference with the Polish President this afternoon. Asked if the Government would halt the increase in petrol prices which had been announced in the Budget if oil prices continued to rise, the PMS said she did not think it would be appropriate to get drawn into a discussion about any kind of fiscal measures which might or might not be taken.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (10)

Interest rates

Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned about the rising level of interest rates, the PMS said that interest rates were a matter for the MPC. She took the opportunity to point out that Britain currently had a very strong economy, with the lowest inflation level for thirty years. In addition, the number of people in work had grown by 1.8 million in the last seven years, and unemployment was at its lowest for a whole generation. The UK also had one of the fastest growing economies in the G7.

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


Asked if the Prime Minister had full confidence in Donald Rumsfeld as the US Defence Secretary, the PMS said that the position of Mr Rumsfeld was a matter for the US Government, not the British Prime Minister.

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


The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) advised journalists that Patricia Hewitt was making a speech on call-centres today. She would take the opportunity to outline the findings of a report on the industry and say that the UK's call-centre industry was in shape and would grow by 200,000 jobs over the next three years. She would also accept that there were areas which could be improved, such as skills, quality of customer service and perception of the industry.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

John Scarlett

The PMOS informed journalists that the Foreign Secretary was confirming today the appointment of John Scarlett as the next Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). The appointment had been made by the Foreign Secretary on the basis of a recommendation from a selection panel, following Civil Service Commission practice. The panel was chaired by the Security Intelligence Co-ordinator, Sir David Omand. Jack Straw said, "John Scarlett has the operational background, personal qualities and wide experience to be a worthy successor to Richard Dearlove".

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)


Asked if additional British troops were heading for Iraq, the PMOS said that the position had not changed since he was asked this question at yesterday afternoon's briefing. The situation was kept under constant review. This was being conducted in a measured way, as you would expect. It would therefore take a bit more time to complete the process. No decision had been taken at this stage. We would let people know the outcome of the discussions when it was appropriate to do so. Asked if the UK had received a request for more troops, the PMOS said that as we had stated from the outset, we were in discussion with our Coalition allies about this matter. However, he had no intention of giving a running commentary on the process.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)


Asked about the Foreign Secretary's meeting this afternoon with the ECB regarding the forthcoming cricket tour to Zimbabwe, the PMOS said that our position on this issue had not changed. We sympathised with the ECB over the position in which they found themselves. However, they were very well aware of our view. That said, as the Prime Minister had told the Commons yesterday, we could not order individuals not to travel.

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

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