» Monday, June 28, 2004

Guantanamo Bay

Asked if a deal on the remaining four British detainees at Guantanamo Bay was expected in the near future, the PMS said she was not aware of any imminent announcement. As she had told journalists on Friday, discussions were continuing about the issue.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (5)

» Friday, June 25, 2004

Cabinet Committees

In the light of questions at yesterday afternoon's press briefing about the establishment of a new Cabinet Committee on UK-US relations, the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) informed journalists that the Prime Minister had answered a PQ on 27 May this year in which he had listed the names, membership and remits of all the different Cabinet Committees and Sub-Committees, including the new Sub-Committee on UK-US relations. This information had been posted on the Cabinet Office website on the same day.

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

Guantanamo Bay

Asked if the Defence Secretary had been expressing the Government's view in an interview on the Today Programme this morning in which he had suggested that he didn't hold out much hope of persuading the US authorities to change their mind about the use of military tribunals to try those being detained at Guantanamo Bay, the PMS said that the we were continuing to work to resolve the situation with regard to the four remaining British detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Discussions were continuing. Asked if the Attorney General's position, as set out in his speech today, was the position of the Government, the PMS said that the Attorney General's remarks were no surprise to us because we had always said that the British detainees should either be tried fairly in accordance with international standards, or they should be returned to the UK. Five of the original British detainees had now returned home. Two of the four remaining detainees had been facing military tribunals, although these were now suspended. Discussions were continuing with the US about their future.

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


Asked about the report in today's Times about the shake-up in secondary education, the PMS said everyone was well aware that the Government was currently examining proposals to reform secondary education. People should exercise a little patience and wait for the document to be published.

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

Euro 2004

Asked the Prime Minister's reaction to the outcome of England's match last night against Portugal, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was disappointed as anyone else. However, he believed that the England team had shown great spirit last night and, indeed, throughout the tournament. Asked if a Downing Street reception was being planned for the team on their return, the PMS said not as far as she was aware.

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

» Thursday, June 24, 2004

Cabinet Committees

Asked again about reports that a new Cabinet Committee had been set up to monitor UK-US relations, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that as he had told journalists this morning, we never commented on Cabinet Committees. Asked if he was suggesting that such a Committee did, in fact, exist, the PMOS said he was simply making the point that we never discussed Cabinet Committees. Put to him that we published an updated list of Committees at fairly regular intervals and that the list in the latest edition of Vacher's did not record such a Committee, the PMOS referred journalists to the Cabinet Office who, he said, were more knowledgeable about Cabinet Committees than he was. Pressed repeatedly as to whether a Cabinet Committee on UK-US relations had been set up, the PMOS said that he would make the relevant enquiries on journalists' behalf and they could ask their questions again at tomorrow morning's briefing.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (5)

NATO Summit

Asked about next week's NATO Summit in Turkey, the PMOS said that the two key elements would be Iraq and Afghanistan. As was well known, Prime Minister Alawi, on behalf of the Iraqi Government, had issued a request for help with training Iraqi troops. Since we were in favour of Iraqi-isation, we would consider this request positively, not least because we were already involved in such a process in Iraq. However, this was something that would need to be discussed by all our NATO colleagues, building on discussions which had taken place at the recent G8 Summit at Sea Island. The NATO Summit would also raise the issue of Afghanistan - hence President Karzai's expected attendance - in which we would want to discuss the issue of security, particularly in terms of expanding ISAF's role beyond Kabul. It went without saying that we remained committed to helping Afghanistan wherever possible. Asked if the Prime Minister had considered not attending the Summit following the bombings in Istanbul today, the PMOS said no.

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

EU Summit

Asked if the Prime Minister would attend an EU Summit next week to discuss candidates for the job of European Commission President, the PMOS said that as the Irish Presidency had stated, a meeting would only be held if there was sufficient consensus to produce agreement on a Commission President. We were anticipating that discussions would continue over the weekend. We would have to wait and see what the outcome might be.

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

Waiting Lists

Questioned about waiting lists and waiting times, the PMOS said that John Reid had explained today the position regarding waiting lists. He had said that while it was important to reduce the figures, the reality was that patients started counting the time from the moment of GP referral rather than when they were actually put on a waiting list. That was why he thought it would be useful to try to bring targets into line with the reality of patients' expectations. However, that could only be done if the issue of capacity was addressed. Asked if that was what Dr Reid had meant by speaking of 'hidden waiting lists', the PMOS said yes. However, that was not to say that considerable progress had not been made in meeting the real need to count down waiting times. These were not phoney results. They were real. The point, however, was that the Government needed to go even further if it was to meet people's expectations and needs.

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


Asked if the Cabinet had reached a final agreement on the CSR this summer, the PMOS said that a date had not yet been set for the CSR. Questioned as to whether the ongoing negotiations between the Treasury and Departments were routine or if the delay in the CSR indicated something more sinister, the PMOS said that if he was being asked about today's Evening Standard report, all he would say was that such coverage in the run-up to any CSR was clearly routine.

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

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