Asked how many photos of the Prime Minister Andrew Parsons had taken today, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that he would not be getting into the habit of giving out details of what each and every civil servant was doing each day.
When asked if the Civil Service recommended that Andrew Parsons should be taken onto the payroll, the PMS replied that Mr Parsons was a Cabinet Office employee and our policy on staff was that we did not talk about employment details.
Asked if it was safe to assume that no photos taken by Andrew Parsons would be made available to the Conservative Party, the PMS replied that this was a Government role, but for any more detail people should speak to the Cabinet Office.
Asked why the Prime Minister needed a photographer and a videographer, the PMS replied that these were Cabinet Office employees and they were Government roles. Put that, when asked, Jeremy Hunt had said that these were Prime Ministerial appointments, the PMS said that photos would be taken by Andrew Parsons of the Prime Minister, but also of other Government Ministers.
On why the Government felt the need to employ a photographer, the PMS said that in the past, the Government had employed people who took photographs.
Put that taxpayers would ask why they were paying for this and not the Conservative Party, the PMS replied that this Government and governments in general spent money on communications. The PMS said that the Government was actually reducing money spent on communications.
Asked how many former party political employees had been appointed to their posts without being subject to competition, the PMS said that he did not think it was Civil Service policy to take into account former employment when appointing someone and it was certainly the case that in the past, the Civil Service had employed people who had previously worked for political parties.
The PMS said that on the issue of competition, he did not know what particular arrangements were made in this case, but it was possible to employ people on short-term contracts without competition.
Asked if there was a limit on how many times contracts could be renewed, the PMS said that it was his understanding that it was possible to renew the contract once, but subsequent to that, there would need to be competition.
Asked about the salary of the new incoming Chief Executive of Lloyds and whether the Prime Minister thought it was appropriate, the PMS said that this was an appointment made by the board of Lloyds. The Treasury would have been consulted through UK Financial Investments in its position as major shareholder in that bank.
The PMS said that the person who had been appointed was well qualified for the job and had a track record of increasing lending to small businesses. The new Chief Executive would be running a bank in which the taxpayer still owned 40% and it was in the taxpayers interest that that bank was run well.
Asked if it was possible for the Government to have a veto in this situation, the PMS advised people to speak to the Treasury.
Asked if the bank could not be run well without the financial package the new Chief Executive was reported to be receiving, the PMS said that the bank needed to be able to employ the right person for the job. The PMS added that as he understood it, the new Chief Executive had taken a pay cut compared to his previous salary.
Asked whether the new Chief Executive had given any indication as to how much the bank would be willing to lend to small businesses, the PMS advised people to check with the Treasury on the details, but he believed that his bonus arrangements were linked to small business lending targets.
Asked if the new Chief Executive was a ‘non-dom’, the PMS said that it wasn’t Government policy to comment on an individual’s tax status.