Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: the torture inquiry, police cuts and the regional fund.
Asked about the reports of a Judge-led torture inquiry, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that as the Foreign Secretary had made clear on this issue, the ongoing allegations of complicity in torture were indeed important questions that the Government would make announcements on in due course.
Put that the Foreign Secretary had said last month that there would be a Judge-led inquiry, the PMS said that the Government had yet to make an announcement further on this issue.
On whether the Prime Minister had now agreed to it, the PMS advised people to wait for announcements in due course. Asked if Wednesday would be the day for the announcement, the PMS replied that she would not drive people to a particular day.
Put that a Liberal Democrat MEP had put out a press release welcoming the announcement, the PMS said that an announcement would be made in due course. On whether the Prime Minister would accept that compensation might be appropriate, the PMS reiterated that an announcement would be made in due course.
Asked if an announcement would be made to Parliament, the PMS said that Parliament would be informed.
When asked if Government lawyers had been in contact with lawyers representing suspects, the PMS replied that she did not have that detail and would not confirm it anyway.
Put that the Foreign Secretary had said that both parties in the Coalition Agreement wanted an inquiry, the PMS replied that she would not add anything to what the Foreign Secretary had said.
Asked if the matter was discussed in Cabinet, the PMS said that it had not been discussed.
Asked if it was Coalition policy for there to be an inquiry, the PMS replied that the Foreign Secretary had said that the matter was being considered and an announcement would be made in due course.
Asked if the matter had been discussed with President Obama at the weekend, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had already commented on what they had discussed.
Asked for a comment on police cuts, the PMS referred people back to what the Home Secretary said this morning and what the Prime Minister had previously said on the issue.
Put that it was for individual police authorities to distribute the budgets they had been given, the PMS said that this was the case. It was for Chief Constables to decide how they met their objectives, but the whole of public spending was subject to the Spending Review.
Put that the Government did not have control over how forces spent their budgets, the PMS said that the Home Secretary had made her views very clear today. There were ongoing discussions with the police before the Spending Review.
Asked whether it was wise for the Government to continue with the policy of electing Police Commissioners, the PMS replied that the Government’s policy on that was clear and remained the same.
On whether the Government was cutting the amount of money that went to the regions, the PMS said that it was part of a package of measures to try and boost the economy in the regions and the Deputy Prime Minister had provided more details of that. There had also been details in the Budget. It included regulatory measures as well as tax breaks.
On whether the announcement was “Brownite”, the PMS said she would not characterise it like that.
Put that it wasn’t £1billion of new money but money re-announced, the PMS said people should look at the package as a whole in terms of the benefits to business.