Asked whether he thought the ID cards scheme could have been used to solve various problems in the future had it been completed, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that scrapping the scheme had been a longstanding commitment of the Government. The Government did not think it was effective and represented wasteful bureaucracy and an intrusion into peoples’ lives.
Put that the argument had always been that ID cards were a counter-terrorism measure and was that now not the case and whether ID cards would ever be reintroduced in the future, the PMS replied that the Government would continue to protect UK borders. The PMS added that he would not speculate on what future Governments might do.
Asked why the Government wasn’t compensating people who had already been issued with ID cards, the PMS said that the number of people who had been issued with ID cards was relatively small and we had taken the decision not to refund them. The PMS said that most of those people would have been aware that there was the potential for this scheme to be discontinued.
Capital Gains Tax
Asked if the Prime Minister would accept that there was a risk of taking less revenue if Capital Gains Tax (CGT) was set too high, the PMS said that he would not add to the comments that had already been made on CGT. The Prime Minister had set out the position this morning and people should wait until the Budget for further details.
Asked if the Prime Minister regretted raising the issue of CGT, the PMS replied that there was a commitment made as part of the Coalition Agreement. The right place to deal with the issue was in the Budget.
Asked whether the Prime Minister was referring to CGT when he spoke about “high marginal tax rates” in his interview, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister had made clear that in general he was opposed to high marginal tax rates and would prefer to see lower rather than higher taxes.
Asked what the thinking was behind cutting the summer recess, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had been committed for some time to reducing the size of the recess period and move away from having a holiday period of three months. Asked if that was a permanent change or was it a reflection of the fact that the Government had a lot to get through, the PMS said that the timetable for Parliament was set each year.
Asked whether the Prime Minister was prepared to accept changes to existing treaties, the PMS replied that the position was set out in the Coalition document, which was that the Government did not want to see treaty changes that would result in powers moving away from the UK to the European Union. Asked if treaties could be changed to affect other European countries but not the UK, the PMS advised people to speak to the Foreign Office.
Asked about the announcement this morning, the PMS said that Iain Duncan-Smith had made a speech on the Government’s plans for welfare reform, including the Government’s objective to take a fresh look at the welfare system. Around a third of Government expenditure currently went towards social security and that needed to be reduced by getting people off benefits and into work.
Asked if the Prime Minister would be betting on any horses, the PMS said he didn’t know whether the Prime Minister would be betting on any horses today, but he was surprised that the Prime Minister hadn’t suggested backing “Fantastic Sam”, who was running at Newcastle today.