Number 10 Press Briefing - Afternoon From 24 January 2011
From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: Lord Strathclyde, economy, Sky and misc.
Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken to Lord Strathclyde today, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that he had not.
On whether the Prime Minister still had full confidence in Lord Strathclyde, the PMS replied that he did.
Asked what the Prime Minister thought about Richard Lambert’s speech, the PMS said that he did not know if the Prime Minister had read the speech.
The PMS said Richard Lambert seemed to be making many of the arguments you would expect a business lobby group to be making.
Asked whether the Prime Minister would agree that the Government was ‘firing on one cylinder on economic policy’ by cutting spending and not encouraging growth, the PMS replied that the Government did not think those two things were separate.
The first thing we needed to do was to tackle the deficit; that would allow interest rates to remain lower for longer, which would support growth. There was a whole range of things that the Government was looking at, and as people would know, there was a Growth Review underway.
Asked what had happened to the Growth White Paper, the PMS replied that there had been a number of publications from the Department for Business on growth and there would be more announcements to come on how we could support growth.
When asked if tackling inflation or keeping interest rates lower for longer was the Government’s priority, the PMS said that interest rates needed to be set by the Monetary Policy Committee; their job was to set interest rates to meet an inflation target. The PMS said that we did not comment on that decision.
The PMS added that if you had tighter fiscal policy, it allowed interest rates to stay lower than they would otherwise be. This was one of the benefits of a credible deficit reduction plan.
Put that Richard Lambert had said that the Government had ‘failed to set out their vision for economic policy’, the PMS replied that he did not accept that.
The PMS said that the Government had been in power since May of last year. The first priority was to tackle the Structural Deficit, which was approaching 10%. We had seen the problems other countries had faced when they failed to deal with their structural deficits and a failure to do so was not a recipe for generating growth in the economy.
The PMS said that we would make no apology about the fact that the deficit had to be addressed. The Government was also looking across the board at what more we could do to promote growth in the economy. There was a Growth Review underway and it would report in the coming months.
Put that Richard Lambert had criticised the introduction of the Bribery Act, the PMS said that we were looking at regulation across the board. We would look very hard at where there were regulatory burdens and see if there was anything we could do to remove them.
Asked whether the Prime Minister would be meeting with Rupert Murdoch or had met with James Murdoch, the PMS said that this was not an area he would be getting into, on the basis that there was an established system for informing people of the Prime Minister’s meetings and he did not want to move away from that.
Asked if the Prime Minister was looking to ‘push through’ the AV Bill, the PMS said that we would continue to give it time for debate.
Asked if the Prime Minister had made any calls to the Met police over fears his phone had been hacked, the PMS replied that he was not aware of any contact.
Asked if there was any update on rats in Downing Street and was the Prime Minister concerned, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was not overly concerned.
Asked if there was any response to the bomb at Moscow Airport, the PMS said that the Foreign Secretary would be issuing a statement shortly.