Asked whether James Murdoch has been to No 10, the Prime Minister’s Spokeswoman (PMS) replied that he had not.
Ian King Letter
Asked how the Prime Minister responded when he got the letter from Ian King of BAE Systems on 5th October that had emerged from the TSC, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had referred to the letter when he made the statement on the SDSR. The PMS added that as the Chancellor had said earlier in the day, we were shocked by the findings.
Put that lobbying of Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers by companies presumably goes on all the time and asked why the Prime Minister didn’t say that as the Government, we will take the decisions, the PMS replied that the Government had contractual obligations. The PMS added that as the Prime Minister said at the time of the SDSR, the Government was in a situation whereby it was locked into a contract that would cost more to get out of than to keep going with.
Asked why the Government would not try to renegotiate the carrier contract, the PMS said that as was clear at the time of the SDSR, the Government looked at this exhaustively and could not get out of this contract without it costing more to the taxpayer.
Put that Ian King said he had no doubt there was some scepticism around the analysis on the costs of the contract and asked whether the Prime Minister shared any scepticism around this analysis, the PMS said there was a lot of investigation at the time to see if there was any way around this situation with this particular contract.
Asked when the Prime Minister understood that there was a 15 year arrangement for the contract, the PMS said this was all brought to light in the SDSR discussions.
Put that the decision on the carriers was not made until the Prime Minister had seen the information in the letter; the PMS replied that the Prime Minister had already been aware as the MOD had previously raised these issues. The PMS added that this underlined the predicament that the new Government faced.
Yemen Parcel Bombs
Put that the French Interior Minister had said that one of the two parcel bombs from Yemen had been defused 17 minutes before it was due to explode. Asked whether this was the bomb that had been found at East Midlands Airport, the PMS replied that she was aware of the reports and was not going to comment on the details of operational matters.
Asked whether Britain had been giving information to France, the PMS replied that we had been co-operating with many Governments.
Asked whether the French reports were credible, the PMS replied that she would not comment on what was clearly an operational matter.
Asked if there were any further details on the entrepreneur visa, the PMS referred to the Prime Minister’s words on this from earlier in the day. The PMS added that the Home Office would be looking at this as part of its Immigration Review and those details will be published shortly.