» Thursday, November 2, 2006

Prime Minister’s regional tour

The Prime Minster's Spokesman (PMS) told journalists that as part of his lecture tour looking at science, the Prime Minister this afternoon would visit a R&D company in Oxford, where he would see a bus that had been converted to run on vegetable oil. The Prime Minister would also visit the home of a new synchrotron which were a series of groundbreaking "super microscopes" that investigated very small matter, for the non-scientists in the room.

Briefing took place at 14:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

PM Speech

Asked if the lobby would be able to get a brief of the Prime Minister's speech tomorrow, this afternoon, the PMOS replied that the traditional aspiration of being able to brief was there but the certainty was not there. The train journey this afternoon to would be important as to whether the aspiration becomes a reality. The PMOS recommended that journalists check at this afternoon's lobby at the House of Commons.

Briefing took place at 14:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Forthcoming Business

The Leader said that next week would be devoted to the usual end-of-session debates on legislation which had started in the House of Lords. In summary: on Monday, November 6, the Commons would consider four linked NHS Bills, Lords amendments to the Animal Welfare Bill, the Police and Justice Bill, the Road Safety Bill and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill, together with other Lords messages.

Briefing took place at 14:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked if the Prime Minister believed that there should be a permanent war memorial to all those have died and served their country since World War II, the PMOS replied that for once we agreed with the Daily Mail. We have been working for a long time to support those who have been trying to get the permanent memorial in Staffordshire. The MoD have been involved in helping to guarantee funding for the memorial but the PMOS asked journalists to seek further advice from the MoD. The overall position is that we were supportive of the idea of a permanent memorial and believed that there was a good case for one. Asked who would provide the funding, would it be the National Lottery, the PMOS replied that it would be a matter for the National Lottery and he would not be able to second-guess their decisions.

Briefing took place at 14:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Lords amendments

Reference was made to the Police and Justice Bill and the issue of extradition. The Leader was asked if he was confident that the large majorities in the House of Lords could be overturned. Mr Straw said that the handling of the debate next week was a matter for the Home Secretary and his colleagues. On the principle, he said that the concern which had been expressed - in both Houses - was that the Government was seeking to implement extradition arrangements before they had been ratified, more or less reciprocally, by the United States. The Leader pointed out that the US had now ratified the arrangements, so it was hard to see what the objection was. It was in no-one's interest - either citizens of the US or the UK - to have individuals, against whom there were serious allegations of serious crimes, at large because of defects in the extradition process.

Briefing took place at 14:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Margaret Beckett and Geoff Hoon

Asked if the Prime Minister was happy with the harmonious partnership which was being formed between Margaret Beckett and Geoff Hoon the PMOS said, as he had yesterday, their respective roles are clear and the Prime Minister believes that they are both doing a very good job in their respective roles.

Briefing took place at 14:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

State Opening

The Leader was asked what contingency plans were being made in the event of Her Majesty, the Queen, not being fit enough to deliver the Speech. He said that was entirely matter for Buckingham Palace. He was asked if, constitutionally, the Queen was required to deliver the Speech. Mr Straw said that the Prorogation Speech was always delivered by Commissioners. In response to further questions, he believed that there had been occasions in the past when the Speech had been delivered by someone other than the Monarch. Later, he was asked if he could reveal the contents of the Speech. Mr Straw said he could, but the answer was no.

Briefing took place at 14:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Chancellor Merkel and Climate Change

Asked about the agenda for the Prime Minister and Chancellor Merkel, the PMOS said that talks would range over the usual European issues and also, partly following on from the last informal summit in Finland, he said that we'd be looking ahead to the German's presidency of the G8 and in particular to the issue of climate change. The Germans had already indicated that it will be a large part of their agenda, clearly because of the way in which we had used our G8 Presidency to focus on climate change and how that had developed into the twin focus of climate change and energy security. He went on to say that the way in which the EU is preparing a White Paper on the subject, showed there was a momentum which we are anxious to keep going forward and the Stern Report is a very useful addition to that momentum. We knew that the Germans were going to make climate change a centre part of their G8 presidency and we wanted to help them do so. There would also be a press conference in the early evening between the Prime Minister and Chancellor Merkel.

Briefing took place at 14:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

House of Lords reform

The Leader was asked for his views on what the questioner said was contained in the forthcoming publication of the Joint Committee on Conventions. He pointed out that the report was embargoed until tomorrow. He said he had not yet read the report and, out of deference to members of the Committee, he did not wish to comment. He preferred to read the report first and also listen to what the chairman, Lord Cunningham, said at his press conference. Mr Straw was invited to comment on a report on the BBC website which referred to the report. In response, he said he had read the BBC report, and thought initially that it had been an outrageous article. He had then realised that the journalist who wrote it had been referring to the manifesto commitment relating to a 60-day period. Asked it he wanted to see the manifesto commitment fulfilled, the Leader said that such commitments could be fulfilled in many ways.

Briefing took place at 14:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked if the number and increase of A8 nationals in to the country last year was too high the PMOS replied that what was important was the contribution that migration was making to the economy, that we had the means to make sure that people were working in the legal economy, rather than the illegal economy, and that we had a points system which was being introduced. People have to again ask themselves, what would be the impact if we did not have the contribution that migration made to the economy in terms of inflation and in terms of the job market.

Briefing took place at 14:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

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