Asked if the Prime Minister was fearful that his trip to the US would be overshadowed by the issue of Megrahi and BP, the Prime Minister’s Spokeswoman (PMS) said that the Prime Minister had addressed this issue today; it probably would be raised but there were other issues of importance that would be discussed such as Afghanistan and economic issues in the Middle East.
Asked if the Prime Minister regarded the issue of Megrahi and BP as a problem, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had made his views clear; he felt the decision to release Megrahi was wrong but it was a matter for the Scottish government. The Foreign Secretary had also written to the US Secretary of State to set out our position.
Asked if the Prime Minister had any plans to review the agreement that was made between the UK and Libya regarding prisoner transfers, the PMS said that the release of Megrahi was a decision based on compassionate grounds, and was unrelated to discussions with Libya regarding prisoner transfers. There were currently no plans to review the prisoner transfer agreement.
Asked what the Prime Minister thought of a UK inquiry, the PMS said that the Scottish government held an inquiry following the decision, and the previous government had released a substantial number of documents into the public domain. At the time, the Foreign Secretary under the previous administration made a comprehensive statement to Parliament, which set out the UK government’s position.
Asked if there had been any communication between the UK government and the Scottish government in the last 48 hours about this issue, the PMS said that there were routine conversations at different levels but nothing specific to point to.
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that the Megrahi issue had affected the UK’s relationship with the US, the PMS said no; the Prime Minister was going to the US to talk about some very important shared issues and to build on a good relationship.
Put that the government had announced it would scrap health targets but then announced 96 new ones, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was clear on what we intended to do to the health service; we wanted to put the power in the hands of clinicians and at a local level; and decisions had to be made on outcomes. This did not mean doing away with every single target if clinically justified, but the health service should be outcome-oriented rather than target-oriented. For details speak to the Department for Health.