Put that a number of unions had announced progress on pension reform, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled media that departments were having discussions with their respective unions and were hoping to make progress. He said the Chief Secretary would update Parliament on Tuesday.
Asked to confirm that deals had been signed, the PMS declined to confirm the outcomes of discussions.
Asked if today was the deadline for talks, the PMS said that the aim was to reach an agreement by the end of the year and Government was hopeful that could be done. He said Francis Maude had committed to updating the House of Commons before Christmas.
Asked if a deal would be taken off the table, the PMS replied that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury reserved the right to take the deal of the table at anytime.
Asked for a response to events in North Korea, the PMS said he did not have anything to add to what the Foreign Secretary had said earlier.
Asked if the Prime Minister was supportive of putting in place a VAT waiver for the army wives choir, the PMS replied that tax was a matter for the Chancellor.
Asked for a read out of the conference call taking place to discuss the Eurozone, the PMS said that the call had not yet finished. He referred the assembled journalists to the Treasury for further details.
Asked if the Prime Minister was pleased with the comments made by the German Finance Minister as this appeared to signal a change in tone from the German Government, the PMS replied that we work very closely with Germany on a whole range of issues and what the Finance Minister was saying echoed what Merkel had said last week.
Asked for details on what would now happen to tackle the problems within the Eurozone, the PMS confirmed that a working group was set up and would work through the technical questions at an official level.
Asked about further agreements, the PMS said that we had said before that in principle we would welcome an agreement at 27, but would need certain safeguards. He said that the Eurozone statement made clear their desire to see the agreement brought into the Treaty in time.
Asked if the Government’s position on the IMF had changed, the PMS confirmed that it had not.