From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: King of Jordon, Libya, Iraq Inquiry, Madeleine McCann and expenses.
King of Jordan
The Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) began by telling the assembled press that the meeting covered developments in the region and the Arab Spring. The King of Jordan had gone through the various reforms that they were taking forward domestically, such as a new constitution and new election laws. The PMS added that the Prime Minister supported and endorsed those reforms. The PMS said that they had also discussed the Middle East peace process and Libya.
Asked about the allied forces providing lethal weapons to the Libyan opposition forces, the PMS said that we had provided the opposition forces with various forms of non-lethal assistance but we had not made any decision to provide arms.
Asked if the Government accepted that there was a stalemate, the PMS replied that as he had made clear this morning, President Jalil had pointed out that our military and diplomatic efforts to bring pressure on the regime were having an impact.
Asked if the Prime Minister was impressed with how thorough and independent the Inquiry had been to date, the PMS said that he would not be providing a running commentary on the Inquiry.
When asked why it had taken so long for some documents to be declassified, the PMS replied that he did not have details on why particular pieces of evidence had taken a particular time to declassify.
Asked what the Government would now do, the PMS said that we were considering what the McCann’s had said and seeing if there was anything else we could do, but we wanted to help them in any way we could.
Put that the Prime Minister would reply to the letter, the PMS said that the Government would look into what more could be done.
Asked if the Prime Minister welcomed the review into expenses, the PMS replied that the position had been set out by Mark Harper. The Prime Minister’s view was that it was right that we had an independent body in charge of the expenses system, but he like many of his colleagues, thought that there were some problems with the way the system was being administered and that it needed to improve.
The PMS said that IPSA had already done quite a lot to address that and this committee would provide an opportunity for MPs to look at the system again and see if there were further improvements to be made. The PMS added that ultimately that judgement would be a matter for IPSA.
Put that the Prime Minister had said that IPSA had to change or they would be changed, the PMS replied that since then IPSA had made significant changes. The PMS said that the Prime Minister thought there was still more that could be done and that further improvements could be made. This committee would provide a way of allowing MPs to air their views.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that David Laws had been fairly dealt with, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister had spoken about this earlier today and had said that we should take some time to study the report.
Asked if it was appropriate for this report to take over a year to complete, the PMS replied that the Government would not be commenting on the House and it’s procedures.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought it necessary to look at some of the inconsistencies in punishment given out to MPs over expenses, the PMS replied that if people were going to jail then presumably they had committed a criminal offence and had been prosecuted for that. Those kinds of cases were clearly a matter for the police.
The PMS added that the Prime Minister felt that it was important to get the system right for the future and that was why it was important that IPSA was working effectively.