Press release

Number 10 Press Briefing - Afternoon From 8 February 2011

From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: Bank Levy, search and rescue, Afghanistan, AV Bill and prisoner voting.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Bank Levy

Asked when the Prime Minister learnt about the Bank Levy announcement, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said it was normal practise for the Prime Minister to be told about tax changes before they were made. The Treasury had been explaining why they had made their announcement today. They had made that announcement and it reflects the resilience of the banking sector.

Asked if he was content if the banks felt they had been dealt with in bad faith, the PMS replied it was a market sensitive announcement. It was not routine to discuss such announcements with external organisations.

Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken to any bankers today,  the PMS replied that he didn’t think so.

Asked if it came out of the blue, the PMS replied it was for the Treasury to make tax policy in the way they saw fit. It was market sensitive information and it wouldn’t be right to share that with certain people before that announcement.

Search and Rescue

Asked what the Prime Minister’s reaction was to suspending privatisation of search and rescue and was he concerned about it, the PMS said the Department for Transport had set out in a Written Ministerial Statement what had happened and why.

Asked if he was worried about procurement at the MOD, the PMS replied that there was an investigation underway. There were certain irregularities associated with that procurement and that was why the decision had been taken.


Asked what the Prime Minister thought of authorities in Afghanistan planning to hang a Muslim who had converted to Christianity, the PMS said we had a very clear position on Human Rights and on that specific case he would advise them to speak to the Foreign Office.

AV Bill

Asked about the Government losing the vote proposing the 40% threshold and was the Government planning to overturn this in the Lords, the PMS replied that on that that specific amendment he would expect the Government to amend it back when it returned to the Commons. On the AV bill more generally he said the assessment was its still on track.

Asked if he was still confident it would get through in time, the PMS said that it was still the intention and he believed it was on track.

Prisoner Voting

Asked whether Government Ministers should abstain and did the Government have any desire not to see a vote, the PMS said there would be a vote. We had said we would listen to the views expressed by Parliament. Our position was that we wanted to listen to what Parliament said. And we would take that into account as we proceeded with that particular issue.

Asked why Lynn Featherstone had said she would vote, the PMS replied he had not seen what she said but the guidance given to Government Ministers was that they should abstain. That was consistent with the Government saying it would listen to what Parliament had to say.

Asked about PPSs, the PMS replied he wasn’t sure if the same instruction had been given to PPSs.

Asked if it was the Government’s position to oppose this motion, the PMS said that the Government position was to abstain.

Asked what the policy was, the PMS said we had a policy and our policy was that we wanted to keep the number of prisoners who get the vote to an absolute minimum. We had not set out precisely what that would mean in practise. There was a legal judgement that had to be made. That was our policy and we were listening to what Parliament would say and we would take that into account.

Published 8 February 2011