» Thursday, February 24, 2005

Press Conference/Minimum Wage announcement

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) informed journalists that the Prime Minister, along with Patricia Hewitt and Adair Turner of the Low Pay Commission, would announce the Government's response to the Commissioner's proposal on the National Minimum Wage at his press conference tomorrow morning. Simultaneously, in Edinburgh, Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling would do the same, and Peter Hain would make a speech in Cardiff at the same time. In Belfast, John Spellar would do the same.

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

Legislative Programme

Asked if there had been a discussion at Cabinet this morning regarding future legislative programme, the PMOS said Cabinet discussed the future legislative programme all the time.

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

Terror Attack

Asked in light of the Met Commissioner's remarks about the Madrid bomb, if Ministers had been given warning about the dangers of an attack before or during an election, the PMOS said he had been asked a similar question yesterday, in light of the Home Secretary's comments. The PMOS said that Ministers would always take the opportunity to state what was a fact, which in this instance was international terrorism was unfortunately a reality, and we did need therefore to remain constantly vigilant. We also needed to equip ourselves with the measures necessary to counter that threat. For example the Government's proposals on control orders. If there was a specific threat which the public needed to know about, then we would inform the public of that, and that had always been the position.

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

Court Martial

Asked if the PMOS was aware of any statement from the Attorney General regarding the court martial yesterday regarding abuse cases, the PMOS said he was not aware.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (4)


Put to him the Leader of the Opposition had blamed the Prime Minister for the rise of MRSA, because of his support for targets, the PMOS said he was not getting into a dialogue with the Leader of the Opposition. As he had said in the morning lobby, the Government had made it clear for some time just how seriously we took the issue of MRSA. The figures reported today, and as the ONS also said, were partly accounted for by increased levels of reporting. We did not in any way underestimate the seriousness of the issue, but at the same time, it was clear that if the relevant people believed a ward should be closed, then it should be closed. Targets had been responsible for achieving a cut in waiting lists across the board, and in an improvement in standards across the board in the health service. What people should focus on was the range of detailed, practical measures that the Government had announced to deal with MRSA in the knowledge that there was no one single factor or person to blame for MRSA. Rather, there were a range of factors that people had to take action against, and that was the Government's serious reply to a serious problem.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (6)

Attorney General Statement

Asked why Lord Falconer and Baroness Morgan "set out" his Parliamentary Written Answer of 17th March 2003, the PMOS said that as he had said in the morning lobby, he was not going to get involved in commenting on leaks or internal processes. The Attorney General had set out his position very clearly in a press statement overnight.

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

Strategy Unit

Asked if the Second Report of the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit was "just glorified spin", coming when it did before a general election, the PMOS replied that the journalist seemed to know the date of the general election, but he, however, did not. The PMOS informed journalists that it was an update of a report that was published about a year ago, and moreover, it brought together all the figures from across Government. The Government therefore thought it was a useful exercise.

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

Commission for Africa

Asked what we could expect from the meeting of the Commission for Africa today, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that this was very much a working meeting, finalizing the report. What people would get out of today was a sense of just how serious a report this was. Over 2000 people had been consulted, they had had representations from 49 African countries. There was more thinking, more energy, and more consultation going into the preparation of this report. Today's meeting aimed to bring it all together.

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

VE Day Referendum

Asked if Patricia Hewitt was right when she said the campaign for the referendum on the European Constitution would be launched on May 8th, which was the anniversary of VE day, the PMOS said that he didn't think that was what she had said. In any case he was not aware of any plans to launch the referendum campaign on that day. What she was doing was recognising the significance which many people in this country, quite rightly, continued to place on VE day.

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


Asked if amendments to the Terror bill had been discussed at Cabinet, the PMOS said that Charles Clarke had been absent which perhaps indicated that the issue had not been a significant one at today's meeting. What was said in passing was an explanation as to why we continued to believe, given the House of Lords ruling, that Control Orders were the answer. This was because they gave the Police and the Security services the range of tools they needed to address this very difficult issue. As the Prime Minister had outlined in his article in the Daily Telegraph today, we believed these measures were necessary for the security of the country.

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

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