» Tuesday, November 8, 2005

UN Security Council Resolution

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) drew journalists' attention to New York where the Security Council would vote on a new resolution for the continuation of the Mutli-National Force in Iraq (MNFI). The Security Council had more quickly than anticipated reached a consensus on this resolution and we had strong hopes that this would be passed with a full degree of support. It would extend the mandate for a further 12 months till December 2006. It would replace UNSCR 1546. It was not yet possible to give the new resolution a number until it was on the floor. The resolution was currently "in blue".

Briefing took place at 8:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

90 Days

Asked if the Government was going to stick with the 90 days time limit for holding suspected terrorists, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the position was as the Prime Minister had set out yesterday. We believed that the case the police had made for 90 days was compelling. The police had set out yesterday why they believed that case was right. They had made it clear that they were not involved in some bartering process but that 90 days was their professional assessment. We believed that anything less therefore would be second best for the security of the country. That was why we believed 90 days was the right answer. Ultimately though it will be for Parliament to decide.

Briefing took place at 8:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (17)

Chinese State Visit

Asked what our main objectives were, the PMOS said, as he had this morning, this was the third time the Prime Minister had met President Hu this year. He had met him at Gleneagles and again in September when the Prime Minister had visited Beijing and now as part of this State Visit. To be clear this was primarily a State Visit with a political visit added on, rather than the other way round. It was part of the continuing conversation that we had with the Chinese now. That conversation involved issues such as the economy and trade. It also involved climate change, a very important part of Gleneagles and the follow up conference held in London last month. Human rights and democracy were also addressed, as they had been in Beijing when the Prime Minister held a press conference with Premier Wen. We found that on human rights issues these were generally better dealt with in private than in public. Asked if they would address the issue of nuclear non-proliferation and China bringing pressure to bear on North Korea, the PMOS said that this was obviously also part of the continuing conversation as was the whole issue of counter terrorism. Asked if the Prime Minister would raise, as part of the trade talks, concerns about the levels of counterfeit goods entering the EU, the PMOS said that they were part of the continuing conversation between the EU Commission and the Chinese and we leant our support to that. Whether it came up specifically in these bilateral talks was another matter.

Briefing took place at 8:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked if the Prime Minister would be raising human rights issues with the President of China when he met him this week, the PMOS said that as the Prime Minister had said in his Press Conference with Premier Wen in Beijing in September, human rights and democracy were always an element in our discussions with China. That was an accepted part of the relationship. China would always raise concerns with us. We would raise our concerns with them. Generally our experience was that it was best to deal with these matters in private rather than public grandstanding. It was an element of the relationship. Of course there were other elements as well, development, climate change and trade for instance.

Briefing took place at 8:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

90 Days

Asked if the Prime Minister had been working on or seeing people in respect of the 90 days aspect of the legislation today, the PMOS said that the Home Secretary and the Home Office were leading the main effort. As such it was the Home Secretary who was primarily taking the lead in seeing people. The Prime Minster would do whatever he had to do, but it was right that the Home Secretary continued to take that lead role. Asked about the dismay John Denham MP had expressed on the radio this morning about the lack of preparation for the Bill's passage and the party politicisation of the issue, the PMOS said, as he had this morning, he did not want to get into a dingdong with John Denham and as such would keep his remarks general. The proposal for 90 days came from the police. It was not a Prime Ministerial or Government proposal. It came from the police. The Prime Minister had made it clear that it was because this was the professional advice of the police that he was supporting it so strongly. Therefore what we were doing was supporting the police not imposing on the police an agenda that they did not support. We were following their lead. In terms of an evidence based assessment the PMOS referred journalists to the letter from Andy Hayman published on the 5th October and again yesterday. This had set out in detail why the professional police's view was that 90 days was necessary. That letter was also supported by ACPO, Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, other Chief Constables and Lord Carlile. There had been quiet a considerable amount of thought and expertise put into this.

Briefing took place at 8:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Working Peers

Asked about the list of working peers and the controversy that some of them seemed to be Labour donors, the PMOS said we should wait for the list to come out.

Briefing took place at 8:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Northern Ireland "on the runs"

Put to him that it was odd that we were putting forward measures about "on the runs" at the same time as the anti-terror legislation, especially as it was not in the Belfast Agreement, the PMOS said it was best to wait for the proposals to be put forward before commenting on the details. In terms of the general point there was a distinction between the "on the runs" issue and the anti terror bill. The key difference was that in Northern Ireland we were dealing with a conflict that was coming to an end. As part of that in the Good Friday Agreement we agreed to the early release of prisoners. That was the most difficult and painful part of the agreement and we fully acknowledged that. But the reality was we would not have got the Good Friday Agreement were it not for the agreement on prisoners. The "on the run" legislation was simply a logical extension of the prisoner release scheme because what it would do would be to address the issue of those who committed crimes before 1998, as had the prisoner release scheme. If those people had been convicted they would have been in the same position as prisoners. As such there was a logical extension there. It did not mean that it was not painful or difficult, but given that we now appeared to be in the final phases of the conflict it was right that we addressed that issue. We had made commitments that we would address this issue as long ago as 2003. Put to him that there appeared to be double standards concerning whether British troops were involved in some unsolved crimes, the PMOS said was that incorrect as anyone from the security forces who was convicted would be able to take advantage of that same mechanism. People needed to be clear about the distinction we had here in regard to Northern Ireland. We had a conflict coming to an end whereas in terms of the terrorism that the anti terror legislation was focused on, such as those who carried out the 7/7 attacks, they wanted to escalate the levels of terrorism not wind it down. That was the difference.

Briefing took place at 8:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

EU Budget

Asked if given there seemed to be little movement this week by the French or the UK on the EU budget, the PMOS said that whenever this conversation came up before we had the presidency he had always declined to give a running commentary. That was the same for when we did have the Presidency. It was only early November and we still had over a month to go. Asked if given this lack of movement the informal discussions had been a waste of time, the PMOS said that as we had made very clear, the discussions this week were about setting out a framework for discussions, not about trying to reach a deal.

Briefing took place at 8:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked about the story in the Daily Express about whether Leo Blair had had the MMR vaccination, the PMOS said that the Express was told at 1600 yesterday afternoon that the story was not true in any respect. The Prime Minister had set out his position and that hadn't changed. The doctor had made it clear that this was a rumour, and no more. The Prime Minister's family was entitled to their privacy.

Briefing took place at 8:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

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