Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: Sheffield Forgemasters, Equitable Life, arrest warrants on war crimes and the airport in St Helena.
Asked whether the Prime Minister was accompanied on any of the flights by Andrew Cook, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) firstly clarified that the Prime Minister’s travel costs were met by the Government. As for accompanying the Prime Minister, the PMS replied that we wouldn’t discuss who was accompanying the Prime Minister.
Asked whether a letter sent to the Department for Business about Forgemasters was also sent to No10, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister received a lot of correspondence and that we wouldn’t provide commentary on what he did or did not receive.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had met Mr Cook since the Election the PMS said she wasn’t aware of any meeting.
Asked whether Downing Street was aware who took the decision on Forgemasters, the PMS replied that the decision was made by the Business Secretary and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Asked what the Chief Secretary’s decision-making processes were the PMS referred people to the Treasury.
Asked whether Equitable Life was not a massive u-turn to what had been repeatedly promised by the Conservative Party given that 50,000 people who would die had been told they would get 40% of what they thought they would get, the PMS replied that the steps that had been announced today demonstrated that the Coalition Government’s commitment had been fulfilled and that a commitment to make fair and transparent payments to equitable life policy holders had been made within two months of forming a new Government.
The PMS added that the new Government also made the commitment that the system was going to be transparent, fair to all policy holders and to the taxpayer and that we would expect payments to be made to those policy holders in the middle of next year.
Asked whether people would get the money they were promised, the PMS clarified that the size of the pot would depend on the spending review.
Arrest warrant on war crimes
Asked about the Ministry of Justice’s decision on arrest warrants for war crimes and whether there was any representation from Israel or anyone else, the PMS referred to the Ministry of Justice.
Airport in St Helena
Asked whether the Prime Minister was happy with taxpayer’s money being used to build new airports, the PMS replied that the decision had been made by the International Development Secretary today. The PMS added that the Government had to think long and hard about this decision and that it considered the economic benefits. The PMS said that considering St Helena was a Crown dependency, it was better to build the airport than to have to meet other costs in the longer term. The PMS said that the aim was to help St Helena to get back on its feet and become self-reliant.
Asked about the costs to build this airport the PMS referred people to the Department for International Development.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had been lobbied to build this new airport, the PMS said that generally speaking the Government is lobbied on many different issues by many different people. When it came to making decisions all of the facts were taken into account to make a decision that was appropriate.