Number 10 Press Briefing: afternoon from 16 November 2010
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
From the Prime Minister's Spokesperson on: royal wedding, Ireland, Andrew Parsons/Nicky Woodhouse and Guantanamo detainees.
Put that the Prime Minister said he had first learned about this at the Cabinet meeting earlier in the day, and asked if this was correct or whether the Prime Minister had known that this was coming fairly imminently and that the morning’s news was just a confirmation, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman, (PMS), said that the first contact we had had on this matter was when a call came through during the Cabinet meeting, at around 1030.
Put that there was a view that the Queen should have informed the Prime Minister in advance for constitutional reasons, the PMS said he had explained what had happened and there were no issues with how the Palace had informed us.
Put that conspiracy theorists might say that the Prime Minister and others at Number 10 had known this was coming hence the conveniently timed announcement that Andrew Parsons was no longer going to be on the public payroll, the PMS replied that that was simply not the case.
Asked whether the Government would be consulted about the date of the wedding and whether the Government would try to avoid this happening over an electoral period, the PMS said that a cross-Government committee would be established to look at various issues around the wedding and organise security arrangements and policing.
Asked if there were any plans on how the wedding would be funded, the PMS said it had only been announced today and there would be consultations between the Palace and the Government.
Asked when the Prime Minister last had an audience with the Queen and when the next one was, the PMS said that the Prime Minister saw the Queen most weeks.
Asked whether the Prime Minister agreed with the Deputy Prime Minister’s assessment that he was full of admiration for the Irish cuts process, the PMS said that the Irish Government had taken some difficult decisions and we supported them in those decisions.
Andrew Parsons/Nicky Woodhouse
Asked if something had happened that had caused the Prime Minister to think again on this issue, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had reflected on this and had decided that they should go back to CCHQ for the reasons the PMS had already set out this morning.
Asked how their duties would change as a result of their change in status, the PMS said that they would no longer be doing a cross-government job and that they would go back to a purely party political role.
Asked if they had received any redundancy payout, the PMS said that they had not been made redundant.
Asked if they would still be able to take pictures of the Prime Minister and invited into Downing Street, the PMS said they would be doing party political work and as leader of the Conservative party, that would involve taking photos or videos of the Prime Minister.
Asked whether meetings in the Prime Minister’s private flat would be considered political events, the PMS said that things concerning the Prime Minister’s role as leader of the Conservative party rather than his role as Prime Minister or head of Government would be party political.
Asked if there was any effect on the other eight individuals from similar political backgrounds who have short-term contracts at the Cabinet Office, the PMS replied that there was not. The PMS added that it was a long established practise that Government departments could employ people on fixed-term contracts, that would continue to be the case and it was not the practice of the Government to check on someone’s political affiliation before employing them.
Put that the payments to the detainees had been referred to as settlements but in the Prime Minister’s statement in July, the Prime Minister had said that the Government would pay compensation where appropriate and asked if the legal position on this had changed, the PMS said that this was a settlement because the Government was not accepting culpability. The PMS added that the Prime Minister had set out a position in July, since then we had entered a process which had now completed and that this was a settlement.