» Thursday, February 16, 2006

Prime Minister’s visit to Germany

Asked for further details about the reasons for the Prime Minister's visit to Germany tonight, as they had spoken quite a few times on the phone, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that Chancellor Merkel and ourselves were very keen to maintain regular contact, not only at official level, but also at the level of Chancellor and Prime Minister. People would see that this was a routine process. Secondly, inevitably, Chancellor Merkel's first visit to London was in the immediate aftermath of her becoming Chancellor, as well as being in the run-up to the European Council, so EU Council business had dominated. There would be continued discussions of EU matters, but other issues had since come to the fore, not least Iran, which would be a dominant issue. The PMOS said other issues likely to be discussed were also the election of Hamas, amongst others. There would be a fair degree of emphasis on the international perspective.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

ISTC Meeting

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) advised journalists that the Prime Minister and Patricia Hewitt had met with NHS Independent Sector Treatment (ISTC) Providers this morning. The purpose of the meeting had been to highlight the Providers' role in improving healthcare, slashing waiting lists, increasing diversity and choice for patients, and sharing and spreading knowledge from the private to the public sector. Waiting lists were currently at their lowest level since records had begun, not least because the Independent Sector Providers had provided around a quarter of a million operations and scans for NHS patients. NHS Treatment Centres had also provided around another quarter of a million treatments to date. The PMOS reminded journalists that many had doubted that the programme would succeed when it had been launched, predicting that "it was the end of the NHS as we know it". Today's meeting was about showing that ISTC Providers were a vital part of the NHS.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)


Asked for further clarification about Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), and why was it discussed at Cabinet, the PMOS said that we had a fundamental review coming up, and therefore, it was setting the parameters for that review. It had already been discussed in Cabinet, and this was just a further development of that discussion. The discussion also was about agreeing the parameters of how it would work, and our relationship with the Treasury and other departments.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

DC Oake

Asked why no medal was being awarded to DC Stephen Oake, who had been murdered during a police raid on a flat in Manchester in 2003, the PMOS said that it would be wrong of him to comment on individual nominations for gallantry awards, just as it would be wrong of him to comment on nominations for the bi-annual conferral of Honours. He reminded journalists of the process for receiving a gallantry award: Chief Constables submitted nominations to the Home Office. These were considered on their merits, with professional advice coming from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). Recommendations then went to the George Cross Committee in the Cabinet Office, comprising officials, not politicians. That Committee would then put forward its recommendations, which the Prime Minister would formally submit to HM Queen. There was no input into the process from the Prime Minister.

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

Terrorism Bill

Asked if the Prime Minister was intending to proscribe radical Islamic organisations which were currently allowed to exist, the PMOS pointed out that the Bill had not yet completed its passage through Parliament. Once that had been done, the Home Office would need to identify the implications and apply the various measures where necessary.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked when the Prime Minister was expecting a smoking ban to be introduced, the PMOS said that the Bill had yet to complete its journey through Parliament. As he had said yesterday, once that had been done there would be no delay in its implementation. Asked if the Chancellor had suggested that there should be a delay, the PMOS said that he was not aware of any such proposal. Questioned as to when the implementation of the Bill might be expected, the PMOS referred journalists to the Department of Health for a response.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (4)


Asked if there were any proposals on what to do next to deal with the situation in Darfur, the PMOS said that the Foreign Secretary had made a speech about Darfur earlier this week in Nigeria in which he had urged the parties in the dispute to speed up their negotiations. He had also urged the UN to increase its role. The International Development Secretary, Hilary Benn, was also closely involved in the process and would announce details of his continuing involvement shortly.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Lords Reform

Asked if Cabinet had discussed the issue of Lords reform today, the PMOS said no. Questioned about Baroness Amos's opinions, the PMOS said that Baroness Amos had expressed her views. That was a matter for her. Asked if the Prime Minister had lost his appetite for Lords reform, the PMOS said that discussions about the issue were continuing.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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