» Friday, November 25, 2005


Asked if the Prime Minister would raise the trial of Dr. Kiiza Besigye with the Ugandan President, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that Hilary Benn and Lord Triesman had already raised this issue with the Ugandans here in Malta this week. The EU, yesterday, issued a statement calling for due process to be followed and for it to be followed quickly. The Ugandan elections were next March. As it happened because of the alphabetical order in which the leaders sat, the Prime Minister would in fact sit next to President Museveni during the Commonwealth conference. As such he had no doubt that the Prime Minister would use that opportunity to reiterate the UK and EU's view that due process must be followed.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)


Asked in regard to the leaked letter from the Chancellor to the Turner Commission whether he could deny that it had come from No10 and if it had what would the consequences be, the PMOS said that he could categorically deny, as far as his knowledge and those he had spoken to at No10, that we were not responsible for the leak. Our position on this was, and had been all week, that nothing was ruled in, nothing was ruled out.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Trade Barriers

Asked about Don McKinnon's comments on the G8 and trade barriers, the PMOS said that he was not aware of Don McKinnon's remarks. Anyone who had studied the outcome of Gleneagles would see nearly a £50 billion increase in aid. We had seen serious action being taken in helping improve the effectiveness with which aid was spent. We were seeing real pressure building up, and we were doing everything we could to increase that pressure towards a deal on trade. Even yesterday we saw for instance the EU agree a reform of the EU sugar sector which would not only save, when in came into operation, the EU$7 billion a year but it would also benefit 120 out of the 140 developing countries who were damaged by sugar subsidies.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Al Jazeera-Memo

Put to the Official Spokesman that a senior executive of Al Jazeera was looking to meet with the Prime Minister when he came to London next week, would the Prime Minister be willing to meet him and did he have a comment about Peter Kilfoyle's Early Day Motion, the PMOS said he was not aware of the EDM. It was also, he suspected, the first that Downing Street had heard about the request from Al Jazeera. It was somewhat short notice. That said the Government was quite happy to talk to Al Jazeera just as they were quite happy to talk to other broadcasters. In terms of who talked to them that would depend on who was available and how much time was given to set up a meeting. Asked if the Government, in relation to the EDM, would be willing to disclose the memo if Parliament put pressure on it to do so, the PMOS said that people needed to take not of the fact that this was something that was sub-judice.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)


Following President Obasanjo's signal on corruption did we see developing nations taking it seriously, the PMOS said that it was clear that you saw through a process of peer review being carried out by the African Union or the moves made by the G8 you increasingly saw an emphasis on good governance and on transparency. In terms of progress he would not get into the job of marking countries out of 10. He did not think that was helpful. What was important was that people could see what the expectations of the rest of the world were and also the benefits for developing countries of having processes that were transparent. The momentum was there in terms of how it was followed through. It was a process which CHOGM was ideal for keeping the pressure on.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

DWP Jobs

Asked how concerned was the Prime Minister that the job cuts at the DWP appeared to be exacerbating computer problems and stopping people's benefit cheques and getting through to someone at the DWP, the PMOS said that he was not sure his take on the job cuts affecting the service was right. He should check with DWP on that point. His understanding was that there was a new computer system, which meant that people had had difficulty. However things were improving. Last week for instance nearly 90% of calls were answered with the vast majority of customers receiving follow up calls within 2 days. It sounded more like teething problems, which inevitably and unfortunately came with this sort of development.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Death Penalty

Asked if the prime Minister had any comment on the death penalty for Nguyen Tuong Van for drug trafficking in Singapore, the PMOS said that the British Government was against the death penalty. Equally however we recognised that sovereign countries were sovereign and that they might have different views on this. As such whilst we may disagree we also had to respect that sovereignty.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

EU Report on Israel

Asked if there was any comment on the Guardian story on the FCO document criticising Israel, the PMOS said that his understanding was that this was a document that was drawn up as part of the EU process and therefore reflected not just British views but EU views. He would not comment in detail on a leaked document, but it reflected a collective heads of mission view in Jerusalem. It was still being discussed and as such it was not yet finalised.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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