» Thursday, February 3, 2005

Soldier compensation

Asked if we were concerned that a British family of a soldier who had died received £27,000 compensation, whilst an American family in a similar situation received £270,000, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman said that in terms of international comparison, the situation was more complicated than it appeared initially. There were differences in health care systems, for example.  He said that MOD planned to increase payments from April this year, but the details were still to be finalised. The PMOS said he would rather comment further when an announcement had been made.

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

Army Abuse Cases

Asked if the Prime Minister believed there was a systemic problem of abuse in the army, the PMOS said we did not believe there was a systemic problem of abuse. The right thing was to let the proper processes continue, which was what we were doing.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)

Northern Ireland

Asked whether we thought Martin McGuiness' comments this morning threatened a return to violence, the PMOS said no. It was fair to say that withdrawing from the decommissioning commission at times of difficulty was something the IRA had done before. Most recently after the breakdown in 2003. Therefore to that extent we had not been surprised. It was important to say that the Government was not seeking confrontation with Sinn Fein, we did recognise the contribution that both Sinn Fein and the IRA had made to the Peace Process. Equally however it was our duty to tell the facts as they were. In this case the facts were that the IRA did carry out the robbery and that was in direct contradiction of what the Good Friday agreement was all about.

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

Michael Howard

Asked if arrangements had been made for the Prime Minister to meet Michael Howard yet, the PMOS said no, diaries had not yet been synchronised. Asked if it was fair to say that Prime Minister was not prepared to reconsider the issue, the PMOS said that as he had said yesterday, first of all it was the Leader of the Opposition who asked for the meeting and the Prime Minister agreed. There would be a proper discussion. Equally we had not arrived at our position either lightly or over-night. It had been part of careful consideration of how on the one hand we responded to the House of Lords ruling and on the other hand balance the needs of individual liberty with those of national security. That was what had driven our proposals and that was why we had taken the approach we had. In terms of the issue of intercepts, there had been in total half a dozen reviews of the use of intercepts. All of which had looked at the issue of whether intercept could be submitted in court. All of these had come to the conclusion on the advice of the agencies and professionals in the field, that to do so would risk sources of material. That was why we had reached that conclusion. Asked if the Government was bound by the Law Lords' ruling, the PMOS said that we did have to respond to the view that the existing position was incompatible with the ECHR, and to that extent we did have to respond.

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


Asked to comment on the recent developments in the Middle East Peace Process, the PMOS aid that we were in close contact with the Israeli government and with the Palestinians in the run up to the Palestinian conference here on the first of March. The meeting of the two leaders was clearly a very welcome development. We recognised, as President Bush had in his State of the Union address last night, that there were serious efforts taking place to try and revitalise the process. That could only be for the good. We would try in a very practical way at the conference in March to help the Palestinian Authority to move forward. As the Prime Minister had said when we visited the region before Christmas, it was in Israel's interest that the Palestinians should develop into a viable partner in the Peace Process, just as it was in the Palestinians interest to engage with Israel.

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

Condoleezza Rice

Asked what could be expected from the Prime Minister's meeting with Condoleezza Rice tomorrow, the PMOS said that meeting would cover the full range of foreign affairs as could be expected. Clearly it was also part of preparation both for President Bush's visit to Europe next month and for Ms Rice's own attendance at the Palestinian conference. It would be an important preparatory meeting. She would also meet the Foreign Secretary and they would hold a joint press conference.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (23)

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