» Thursday, February 9, 2006


Asked if the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) was able to confirm the day when the Education Bill would be published next week, the PMOS replied he could not. What we had said all along was that it would probably be published before the end of February.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) gave the journalists a preview of what the Prime Minister intended to say at the Education seminar today. He would say: "Today's seminar shows the growing interest in Trust schools from a range of schools and potential sponsors such as Microsoft, KPMG and BT. We know that schools that have a distinctive ethos do better, that was why we want schools to be free to set up trusts if they wish to. Trust schools bring together the freedoms of Foundations with the governance of voluntary aided schools, harnessing the enthusing of external partners we have already seen with specialist schools and Academies. Trust schools can address failing and underperforming schools in new ways, that will benefit the most disadvantaged in society."

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked if it would be fair to assume that the CSA would be rebranded and have a new name after the latest review, the PMOS said that the question was a legitimate one, but people would have to wait until Mr. Henshaw had done his job. What we had said was that this was a blank page, and Mr. Henshaw had been asked to design the system that we needed to address the problem. People then worked backwards from that to work out what the implications were for the CSA. As John Hutton had said, this was not a problem about the staff at the CSA, but rather, it was about designing a system that was fit for the purpose. Unfortunately, the system we had at the moment was not fit.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Child Support Agency

Asked to describe the Government's position with regards to the CSA, the PMOS said that we had to go back to what the Prime Minister had said in the House where he had been very clear that we should not blame the problems of the CSA on the people who worked there. They had done the best they could. We should be realistic and recognise that the task they had been asked to do was not one for which the organisation had been fit for. Therefore today was about introducing some operational improvements in the interim, but recognising that we needed a brand new system and that was why we were bringing in someone, not to review the system, again, but to design a fundamentally new system, whatever that might be.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (3)

Whips’ Office

Asked for some information about the changes to the Whips' Office, and why were they moving the Whips' Office from the Cabinet office to the Privy Council, the PMOS replied that because it was something that had been proposed by Sir Gus O'Donnell, it was better that the journalist spoke to the Cabinet Office.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Abu Hamza

Asked why the authorities hadn't dealt with Abu Hamza sooner, the PMOS said that the problem in terms of the case were to do with evidence. The important thing was that prosecution had been brought and the other important thing was that we were moving to make it easier to bring prosecutions in this kind of case. The Government was addressing the areas in terms of incitement and glorification and that was why next week would be important.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked if the Prime Minister shared the Home Secretary's views that the Opposition were in danger of weakening the powers that dealt with terrorists, the PMOS replied that he would rather not talk about the opposition. What the Prime Minister hoped was that nobody would do anything to dilute what he believed was necessary at this stage. That was a clear signal from Parliament to the courts that the glorification of terror in whatever form, and incitement to terror, whether indirect or direct, was against the law, and therefore, should be actionable. What we had said was that we needed a clear signal from Parliament, and that was what we hoped would come.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Danish Cartoons

Asked how we were tightening up security of our embassies following the violence over the Danish cartoons, the PMOS said that the Foreign Secretary had outlined our position on the cartoons, but it was best if he didn't feed the publicity around the cartoons by adding anything to what had been said already.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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