» Thursday, February 24, 2005

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)

Attorney General’s Advice on Iraq

Asked about the meeting between Lord Falconer, Lord Goldsmith and Baroness Morgan, the PMOS said that he would neither comment on leaks nor on private meetings. Asked about whether the Parliamentary Statement on the legality of the invasion of Iraq reflected the Attorney General's view, the PMOS said that he would refer people to the Attorney General's statement over night in which he said that in his "Parliamentary answer on 17th March I explained my genuinely held, independent view that military action was lawful under the existing Security Council resolutions. It was certainly not a view expressed as a result of being 'lent on' in any way. Not as he had already made clear was it written by anyone at Number 10." Those were Lord Goldsmith's own words and own judgment in this case as was his answer on the 17th March. The reality was that nothing that had been published in the last few days, changed this story one iota. Asked if it was appropriate for the law officers to be meeting with Baroness Morgan, the PMOS said that he didn't comment on internal discussions. Asked if perhaps someone else had drafted the words for the Attorney General from his own office, the PMOS said that he wasn't going to get into processology.

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


Asked what the Government's response to the NSO report that MRSA deaths have doubled since 1999, the PMOS said that as the ONS itself set out, firstly we recognised that this was a serious issue, but the ONS believed the increase was in part due to increased reporting. We did recognise that was not the only reason. It was an issue which the Government took very seriously and John Reid had set out in the last six months new measures that were being taken to address the issue. The figures were for 2003 so they would not in any way reflect these new measures. The important thing about these figures was that because they had more detailed information, it allowed us to try and identify the range of measures that would help to counter it. There was no single cause of MSRA that you could just address. It confirmed what we knew, that this was a serious issue, but it also underlined the rationale for the series of measures which John Reid had introduced.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (6)

» Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Terror Attack figures

Asked if there had been a previous occasion when the Prime Minister had given casualty figures with regards to a terrorist attack, as he had done in today's PMQs, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman said that the Prime Minister had referred frequently in the past to both the possibility of an attack, and also his view that if there was an opportunity to cause even more carnage, for example at the Twin Towers, then terrorists would use that opportunity to do so. Equally, he had referred in the past to the Madrid bombings, where hundreds of people did die, and again, if it had been possible, more people would have died, if the terrorists had had their way.

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

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