Press release

Number 10 Press Briefing - Afternoon From 1 June 2011

From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: Care home abuse, Southern Cross, FIFA, Prisons, Libya, Economy, Olympic tickets, Health.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Care home abuse

Asked if the Prime Minister still had confidence in the Care Quality Commissioner (CQC) after the Panorama programme last night showing torture and bullying at a particular care home, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that this was a specific case that was clearly very shocking and the Health Minister, Paul Burstow had asked for a thorough examination of the roles of both the CQC and the local authorities (LA’s) in this case.

Asked if the CQC had sufficient resources, the PMS said that we had to look at the circumstances surrounding this particular case.  Clearly there had been failures in this case and we needed to look at that before drawing any conclusions.

Southern Cross

Asked if there was any contingency planning in the case of Southern Cross Healthcare, the PMS said that there had been discussions between Southern Cross (SC) and the Department of Health (DH) for some time.  This was something that DH had been monitoring very carefully and they would continue to do so.

Asked if LA’s had a duty of care and if the Government would offer them financial help, the PMS said that SC, its landlords and those with a stake in the business needed to put in place a plan to ensure that that company was on a firm footing.  That process was happening.  Our role was to ensure that we kept in close contact with what was going on, and to keep monitoring the situation.  We would do what we needed to do to ensure that there was effective protection for anyone affected but, at the moment we needed to let the process continue.

Asked if that meant that the Government would be prepared to put up extra cash, the PMS said that it meant that we would make sure there was effective protection.  There was a process underway where SC, its landlords and others with a stake in this business were discussing how best it could discharge its responsibilities.  We were not directly involved in that process, but clearly we were monitoring it very closely.  Our concern was to make sure that there was effective protection in place for residents who might be affected, but we did not want to pre-empt those discussions.

Asked if that meant keeping residents in the physical location they were currently in or moving them somewhere else, the PMS said that it may well be in the best interests of residents to keep them in the same place, but we had to look at that very carefully and we had to let this process continue with the company and various other interested parties.  Our concern was to make sure that these people were cared for effectively.

Asked if the money would come from a reserve if the Government put up hard cash, the PMS said that he didn’t think there was a great deal more he could say.  Clearly there was a process underway, and our view was that providing a commentary on that process was not necessarily in the interests of residents.

Put that the Government was clearly not going to dump the burden on LA’s, the PMS said that we were clear that we were putting the interests of residents at the top of the list. 

Asked if residents who were worried should understand what Government was presumably saying was that there was a guarantee that they would not lose out, the PMS said that that was exactly right - we would ensure the interests of residents were protected.

Asked what lessons that Prime Minister had learned from the SC case regarding the role of the private sector in healthcare, the PMS said that this was something that was being discussed as part of the listening exercise.  The PMS said that there was also a review underway on social care and social care provision, which was concluding in the next couple of months.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought there were any particular to be learnt, the PMS said that where there were lessons to learn we would clearly learn those lessons.  It was not a new thing for private sector providers to be involved in healthcare in this country.  The important thing was that there were effective protections in place.  In the case of social care and the SC situation there was a regulator, the CQC, and there were duties for LA’s.  However, we were clear that there were issues with the way social care more generally was provided in this country, which was why we were reviewing it.


Asked what the Prime Minister thought of Sepp Blatter’s re-appointment as FIFA President, the PMS said that our view was that we needed to see greater accountability and transparency at FIFA.  The organisation needed to reform.  We backed the Football Association (FA) in abstaining from the vote and we agreed with the FA that FIFA should have suspended the Presidential election until the investigations which were underway had been completed.  The most important thing in all of this was that the public had confidence in FIFA and in order for that to happen, certainly in this country, we needed FIFA to reform.

Asked if the Government had had any contact with the FA before they made their statement, the PMS said that the Sports Minister had had lots of conversations with the FA.  People should speak to the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) about precisely when they happened.

Asked if the Sports Minister also had contact with the Palace, the PMS said it was best to speak to DCMS.

Asked if it was appropriate for Prince William to get involved, the PMS said that lots of people had expressed views on FIFA and the Presidential election, and we had been doing the same.

Put that it would be astonishing for a member of the Royal Family to get involved without speaking to Government, the PMS said that Prince William had been involved in the World Cup bid and clearly had an interest in this area.  We agreed with what he and others had been saying, that FIFA needed to reform itself and get its house in order.

Put that some people would be concerned that Prince William was being used, the PMS said that he thought people were concerned about FIFA and the allegations that had been made about what had been happening there.


Asked if the Prime Minister thought it was right that prisoners should be able to father children whilst in jail, the PMS said that the journalist was referring to a case in the paper this morning of a man allowed access to artificial insemination whilst in prison and that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said that it was investigating the circumstances surrounding this case. 

The PMS went on to say that there had been a recent FOI request about this issue.  It had been possible for prisoners to make these applications for some time and there had been applications in the past.  It had been granted on one occasion in recent years which was the case the journalist had been referring to. 

Asked if the Justice Secretary had signed off the permission for this particular case, the PMS said that MoJ were making clear the circumstances surrounding the approval of this case.

Asked what the Prime Minister’s view was on this, the PMS said that this was a single case and we would not get into commenting on the specifics when MoJ were looking into it.  Clearly the fact that MoJ was investigating this suggested that this may not have been dealt with in the way it should have been.

Asked if the Government was content for prisoners to keep making these applications, the PMS said that it was best to speak to the MoJ about how the system worked.


Asked if the Government was directly or indirectly paying private security companies to work in Libya, the PMS said that as people knew we did have an FCO/MoD team in Benghazi, but it was not right to get into details of security arrangements for that team.  Clearly we took their security seriously and had arrangements in place.

Asked if that included directly training members of the rebel forces, the PMS said we had been clear about what the FCO/MoD team was there to do: they were providing various forms of support to the Interim Transitional National Council of Libya to help them with the organisation of their internal structures, communications and so on.

Put that a newspaper had claimed this morning that ex-British Special Forces had been brought in to train rebels, the PMS said that any military activity we undertook would be in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1973. 

Asked if the PMS was saying that photos of alleged ex-British Special Forces member in a newspaper today were in Libya as part of a close protection team, the PMS said that he was not making any statement about the people in the photographs.


Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that, according to a report out today, we were having the most sluggish recovery since the 1930s, the PMS said that we had a clear strategy in place, which was designed to ensure we had sustainable private sector growth.  The first part of that strategy was dealing effectively with public sector deficit.  We were looking across the piece at different ways the Government could support private sector recovery.

Asked if the Government disputed the analysis out today, the PMS said that there was a 0.5% growth in the first quarter of this year, which followed a fall in output in the final quarter of last year.  We had always been very clear that it was likely to be choppy as we came out of recession.

Olympic Tickets

Asked if the Government was concerned with the way the lottery system had worked in the distribution of Olympic tickets, the PMS said that arrangements had been put in place to ensure that the allocation of these tickets was as fair as possible, and to ensure access for as wide a range of people as possible.

Asked if the Government accepted that it had been a fair process or that they had done everything possible to make it a fair process, the PMS said that we accepted that it was a fair process.  People had known about the process for some time and clearly there would be some people at the end of the process who would be disappointed.


Asked if the PMS recognised the story that the health reforms would be delayed until February, the PMS said that the listening exercise would come to a close soon and then we would be setting out next steps.

Asked when the report would be published, the PMS said that we had not fixed a date.

Asked if Government could guarantee the health reforms would clear the Lords by the end of the year, the PMS said that we would wait for the report and then set out the next steps.

Published 1 June 2011