Asked why the Prime Minister had changed his mind about paternity leave since 2006, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that it was a Coalition agreement, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. We were consulting and would ensure that burdens on business were kept to a minimum. This reflected the fact that increasingly fathers were taking a larger role in parenting. We were providing flexibility so that they could make their own arrangements.
Put that there was Government hypocrisy in supporting a deal between BP and Rosneft, the PMS said that the first thing to point out was that this was a commercial deal between two companies. More generally, the Prime Minister had made the point that there would be differences of opinion on specific issues with Russia, but there would also be areas where it was in our mutual interest to work together, and we would do that.
Put that the Energy Secretary had attended the announcement, the PMS said that his understanding was that Chris Huhne attended an event at the invitation of BP. The Department would be able to give details.
Put that there was US hostility towards BP over the recent oil spill, the PMS said that it was not our place to comment on that; some US politicians had made statements.
Asked what the position was regarding drilling in the Arctic, the PMS said that we needed to have a strong and effective regulatory system in place.
Asked if the deal was good for jobs, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had been very keen to push trade and the interests of British companies, but we would not provide a commentary from the Prime Minister on this deal.
Asked if there had been any communication between Downing Street and the White House on this deal, the PMS said that he was not aware of any.
Asked if there had been any talks between the Prime Minister and Lord Strathclyde, and if the Government was confident that the deadline would be met, the PMS said that our intention was to meet that timetable. We were making parliamentary time available to ensure that that happened. There would be some late night sittings this week.
Asked if a guillotine would be introduced, the PMS said that we believed we would see the legislation enacted to the timetable outlined.
Asked if No 10 thought that the Lords had a right constitutionally to block this because it wasn’t in the manifesto, the PMS said that the Lords were clearly going to have views on this and they would be making them known this week. The Government’s position was clear: we had a package we intended to implement and that would be within the timetable. We were going to press ahead with both parts of the Bill.