From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: NHS funding, prison sentencing, MPs' expenses and the RBS report.
Put that there was a marked difference in the language used by the Prime Minister on Health funding, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that he didn’t think there was a marked difference. The position was as set out in the Coalition Agreement. The PMS added that there seemed to be a debate going on about inflation forecasts.
Put that the Government would guarantee real term increases in NHS funding even if inflation was higher, the PMS replied that that was a hypothetical situation and the position remained the same; we would guarantee that Health funding would increase in real terms.
Asked if the Government would find extra money to keep its pledge if inflation was to go higher, the PMS said that the position remained as set out in the Coalition Agreement. Asked if money would be found in a years time, the PMS said that the Coalition Agreement stated that Health funding would increase year on year in real terms.
On whether the Prime Minister was concerned by the ‘rift’ between the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary over sentencing policy, the PMS replied that there was no rift. The Home Secretary had said that the system needed to work better, which was echoed by the Justice Secretary today. The PMS added that we had to look at the Prison estate, just as we had looked at the Court estate and plan for expected prison numbers.
When asked how he would describe relations between the Prime Minister and the Justice Secretary at the moment, the PMS said that they were good.
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned by the ‘shambles’ of last years expense accounts, with £14million unaccounted for, the PMS replied that as he understood it, the accounts had been qualified, which was certainly not an ideal situation. There had been a lot of debate in the House on this issue, and it needed to be dealt with.
Asked if he thought the issues would be dealt with under the current system, the PMS replied that there were problems with the system as it stood and those were being addressed. On whether the Prime Minister had a view on how the problems should be addressed, the PMS said that he believed that the House had expressed a view, which was to set a timetable for IPSA to address the problems.
Asked if the Prime Minister shared the view of Lord Turner, that it was extremely frustrating that RBS were blocking the publication of it, the PMS replied that this was a matter for Lord Turner.
Asked if the Prime Minister wanted to see the publication of the report, the PMS said that the important thing was to learn the lessons from the RBS experience, for example by reforming the regulatory system.
Put that the actions of RBS in relation to the report not being published had been contemptuous towards Parliament, the PMS said that this was a matter for the FSA, but as he understood it, Lord Turner had said that he would look at what it was possible to publish.
Asked if the Prime Minister supported the Business Secretary in his attempts to get the report published, the PMS replied that Lord Turner and the Business Secretary were meeting about this, this afternoon. Lord Turner had said that he wanted to see what could be published, so he was actively looking at this issue.