Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: Network Rail and the Budget.
Asked if the Prime Minister felt anything other than disappointment regarding the bonuses at Network Rail, the Prime Minister’s Spokeswoman (PMS) said that “disappointment” summed up how the Prime Minister felt. The Transport Secretary had released a statement in response; Network Rail was of course a private company, but one that was dependent on taxpayer funding, so we were disappointed that Network Rail executives had accepted bonuses of this scale in the current climate. In a week when everyone had been asked to share the burden of reducing Britain’s deficit, people would be rightly asking how Network Rail’s top executives felt this was appropriate. The upcoming review of the Management Incentive Plan must be far-reaching and fundamental. Bonuses must be earned by exceptional performance, and not be an entitlement.
Asked if the Prime Minister felt that action should be taken, the PMS said that in the current climate, when everyone had to tighten their belts, bonuses of this scale and nature were disappointing. The Transport Secretary wrote to Network Rail some time ago, indicating that they were already handsomely rewarded and questioned whether they should accept their bonuses.
Put that the Prime Minister, when in opposition, said that it was a fiction that Network Rail was a private company, the PMS said that Network Rail was a private company, dependent on taxpayer funding. She referred reporters to the Department for Transport on the structure of Network Rail.
Asked if the Prime Minister saw the Budget as a single entity or, in the spirit of the coalition, something of a “pick ‘n’ mix” between the two partners, the PMS said that the Budget was a single entity, delivered by the Chancellor on behalf of the coalition Government. Careful consideration had been given to dealing with the record deficit, and the need to help build confidence in the economy in order that we could support the recovery.
Asked if the Chancellor would be asked to resign if a section of the Budget was defeated during the Parliamentary process, the PMS declined to comment on what was a hypothetical question; the Finance Bill was currently before the House.
Put that the Deputy Prime Minister had said this morning that in future Budgets there would be exceptional measures to keep things fair, the PMS referred reporters to the Treasury regarding details on the Budget. Fairness was at the heart of this Budget and we were all in this together. Decisions that had been made were tough, but we were trying to protect the most vulnerable people in society.
Asked if the Prime Minister included Network Rail directors when he said “we’re all in this together”, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was referring to everybody in the country who was impacted by the Budget.