Asked if the Government would table an amendment to labour’s motion tomorrow, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman confirmed that we would not.
Asked why the Government was supporting the motion, the PMS said that yesterday the PM had said that News International should be concentrating on dealing with the problems in the organisation, not expanding.
Asked if the vote would be whipped, the PMS said he didn’t know abut whipping arrangements but confirmed that the Government would support the motion. The PMS also pointed out that there was an issue for the Secretary of State for Culture, as he would have a quasi-judicial role in any future bids, and therefore would not vote.
Asked about a meeting with the PM, DPM and Leader of the Opposition, the PMS confirmed that it would be taking place that night, the purpose of it was for Ed Milliband to share his thoughts on the inquiry and how it should be run.
Asked if the PM had confidence in John Yates, following the Select Committee, the PMS pointed the lobby to the Home Secretary’s response to the same question.
Asked if the Government voting for the motion meant that News Corps could not expect a fair decision if the bid still went through, the PMS explained that the Secretary of State for Culture would not vote. Asked if the SoS would remain independent regardless of the outcome of the vote, the PMS said that the position as set out by the Enterprise Act meant that is was the decision for the SoS.
Asked what the motion meant, the PMS said that it meant what it said, that News Corps should ‘withdraw’ the bid, but that it would debated in the House.
Asked if there was any rule against Jeremy Hunt speaking in the debate, the PMS said that there was not and pointed out that he had made a statement on the subject in the House yesterday.
Asked if the Government had sought advice from lawyers, the PMS declined to comment on what advice we had received.
Asked if the PM would encourage Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks to attend the Select Committee next week, the PMS said it was a matter for them, but that News International had said it would cooperate with the committee.
Asked if OFCOM could ignore the vote, or if it counts for anything, the PMS said that Parliament was expressing a view with this vote, and added that the Government would abide by the framework set out in the Enterprise Act. Asked if the PM expected Rupert Murdoch to pay attention to this vote, the PMS said that it was ultimately a decision for News Corps, but that we would expect people to take seriously what Parliament said.
Asked if the PM would make an announcement on the inquiry before recess, the PMS said that the Government was trying to make the announcement as soon as possible.
Asked what the PM would discuss with the Dowler family, the PMS said that they requested the meeting and that the discussion would be along the lines of the ones had with the DPM and Leader of the Opposition.
Asked if the PM agreed with the French Defence Secretary when he said that bombing Libya was a ‘waste of time’ and that it was time to talk to Qadhafi, the PMS said that the Government thought that the actions it was taking in Libya was proving effective in bringing pressure to bear on the regime, and pointed the Lobby towards recent comments by the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Juppe.
Asked if this was the first sign of a rift between the Libya allies, the PMS said that the coalition of countries opposing Qadhafi was strong, and that this would be shown when they met later in the week.