Asked whether the Quad have had conversations around the Budget, the PMS said that the Chancellor and PM had been out of the country but had been regular Quad meetings around the Budget as part of the process.
Asked how much notice the Office for Budget Responsibility needed of budget decisions to conduct forecasts, the PMS confirmed that the deadline for the OBR scorecard was today but that the OBR were an integral part of the Budget process and conversations have been ongoing.
Asked whether the decisions would all need to be finalised by the OBR deadline, the PMS said that the OBR were a part of the Budget process, the Budget would be delivered on Wednesday, but she would not speculate about decisions.
Asked whether the PM would agree the process had been shambolic with public debate between Government ministers, the PMS said that debate was part of a Coalition Government, but that the Coalition Government’s Budget was going to be delivered on Wednesday.
Asked whether the Chancellor should have gone to the US given his Budget was being delivered the following week, the PMS said that important conversations had been had in the US and that given modern telecommunications it was highly possible for the Chancellor to engage in Budget decisions whilst away.
Asked why the PM wasn’t clearing his diary to conduct Budget decisions today, the PMS said there would be a teleconference and the PM was on constituency business.
Asked whether the US had contacted the Government regarding the release of oil reserves, the PMS said that the PM had been clear that the topic had been discussed but no decisions had been made. There had been a release of oil stocks last year but this was part of an international agreement.
Archbishop of Canterbury
Asked whether the PM had a statement on the Archbishop of Canterbury stepping down, the PMS provided the PM statement on Dr Rowan Williams.
Asked whether there would be a send off meeting at No10 Downing St, the PMS said that the Archbishop was stepping down at the end of the year and it was highly likely the PM would meet with the Archbishop before then.
Asked when the PM had been informed of the Archbishop’s decision to resign, the PMS said he had been formally informed that morning.
Asked whether the PM had discussed the resignation with the Archbishop that morning, the PMS said she did not believe they had discussed the matter.
Asked when a successor would be appointed, the PMS said there was a process for appointing the next Archbishop. The responsibility for nominating candidates for the position to the PM rests with the Crown Nominations Commission. The PM would then make a recommendation to the Queen on the appointment. The PM is responsible for selecting the chair for the Commission.
Asked whether there was a timetable for the appointment, the PMS said that the Commission would be convened in May to agree on the process, but the timetable for the announcement itself would become clearer after that.
Asked whether the PM already had a preference for the next Archbishop of Canterbury and whether he thought it would be good to have a black Archbishop, the PMS said that there was a process to follow and the Government was fully committed to equality.
Asked whether the Government had any reaction to the Argentine Government’s threats to take legal action against companies extracting Falklands oil, the PMS said that any exploration in the Falklands is a legitimate commercial venture and the position of the British Government is that it supports the right of the Falkland Islands to develop their own natural resources for their own economic benefit. This is an integral part of their self determination. The British Government is studying the remarks that have been made but the Argentine stance is regrettable, and in the Government’s view domestic Argentine legislation does not apply to the Falkland Islands.