Asked if the Prime Minister (PM) was content that Brooks Newmark MP was going to Syria to talk to President Assad, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that the PM was in Birmingham but that the Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO) was made aware and had discussed the trip with the Mr Newmark.
Asked if the MP in question went as a Government envoy or passed on any official messages, the PMS said that he went in a personal capacity.
Asked about the guidance from the FCO, the PMS said that the general advice was not to travel to Syria.
Asked if the Government was falling short of the recommendations for a total ban on referral payments, set out in the Jackson review, the PMS pointed them to the Ministry of Justice for a response.
Asked if the Government was happy that the insurance industry was colluding with police and others to sell on personal details, the PMS pointed out that police selling on details was illegal. There wasn’t sufficient evidence to support Jackson’s recommendation on the issue of commercial organisations passing on details, but the Department continued to look at it.
Asked if the Information Commission should investigate as a data protection issue, the PMS said that the law applied to everyone, including the police. A lot of the information was being passed on legally by commercial organisations, after consent had been given by an individual signing a contract. Asked if it was fair that an individual could unknowingly give consent by ticking a box after a crash, the PMS said that this was the issue that the Department were looking into.
Asked if it was a good thing that the Department were still looking at this, the PMS responded that at the time of the Jackson Review there was not sufficient evidence to support a change. A review by the Legal Services Board had supported that judgement but the Department continued to look at the issue.
High Speed 2 (HS2)
Asked if the PM thought that people living along the HS2 route were all ‘well off nimbys’, the PMS said that the Government policy was to press ahead with HS2.
Asked if the PM was pleased with the number of schools that planned to stay open, the PMS said that the figures set out by the Education Secretary were incomplete as teachers were not obliged to tell their schools if they would be going on strike. The PMS said that there would be an update on the figures and a more complete picture to come.
Asked if academies were more likely to stay open, the PMS said it was difficult to draw firm conclusions as nearly half had not yet responded.