Green belt, aid and Lord Ashcroft were discussed in this press briefing.
Asked if the Green Belt was safe for the time being or until after the party conferences, the PMS said that the Government encouraged councils to examine flexibilities in the current planning regime. We had a national planning framework, which had been published recently and there are no plans to change that.
Asked if the PM agreed with Lord Ashcroft when he said it was time to turn off the ‘golden tap of aid’, the PMS said that we have very clear aid commitments and we were sticking to them.
Asked what the aid commitments were, the PMS said that there is a commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on aid.
Asked about the Government’s commitment to legislate, the PMS said it was committed to legislating when Parliamentary time allowed.
Asked whether it would be law by 2013, the PMS said that legislation was prioritised in the Queen’s Speech.
Asked whether the PM thought there should be more scrutiny over how aid money was spent, the PMS said that he did and that was why we had set up an independent watchdog to examine the way tax payers’ money was spent.
Asked why the Government was still paying aid to countries with nuclear programmes such as India, the PMS said that in reference to India, there were plans to change our aid programme, but it was important to remember that India was home to some of the world’s poorest people.
Asked whether the Government was cutting the aid commitment as GDP had decreased, the PMS said that the spending review set spending commitments for four years.
Asked what Lord Ashcroft’s role was, the PMS said that he had taken on a specific role helping veterans and advising on their transition into civilian life. He was an advisor, but not a Government minister.