Answering questions on the EU budget the PMS said over the weekend the Prime Minister spoke to numerous European partners as part of constructive efforts to find a deal for the EU’s multi-annual budgetary cycle. He spoke to counterparts in Poland, Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The Deputy Prime Minister would also speak to some European partners as well that would include his counterparts in Finland and other Baltic countries. We expected the Prime Minister to make further calls shortly. The Prime Minister has been making clear why the UK wants a cut or at worst a freeze in EU spending and putting our position that European spending cannot be immune from cuts that we are making back home. We recognised that these would be tough negotiations with many countries around the table. We have had some good ideas to cut spending for example on administration and how much people are paid in the Commission and we believed that we could work through these details to get the right deal at the Summit. We wanted to find the right deal for UK as well as European taxpayers. The Prime Minister set out his views today on Europe at the CBI where he said two of the greatest successes of the European Union was the Single Market, which is a British priority, and the enlargement of the European Union to the countries of Southern and Eastern Europe which he said spread prosperity and enhanced democracy.
Responding to questions on property tax the PMS said tax was a matter for the Chancellor and we have been clear on our position on property tax. The Autumn Statement was a few weeks away but as a point of principle we have made clear that those with the broadest shoulders should bear the greatest burden. Those people who have worked hard to buy their home should not be hit by a mansion tax and we have ruled out a revaluation of council tax bands.
Answering questions on MPs’ expenses the PMS said the Independent Parliament Standards Authority (IPSA) was set up to deal with MPs’ expenses and that it was for IPSA to look at individual issues raised by the public and media. One of the reasons the independent body was established, was to take the politics out of MPs’ expenses.
Asked about the Mayor of London’s comments on libel tourism the PMS said she was not aware of the Mayor’s comments but we were not encouraging libel tourism on a point of principle.
Asked about when a draft bill on prisoner voting would be published the PMS said the situation now was that the Government was deciding how best to proceed following the judgements from the European Court of Human Rights and that we would make an announcement before the 23rd of November. Our general position has not changed: when people go to prison they lose their right to vote.