Put that there had been two conflicting Government views today in that the Justice Minister had said that some prisoners would be given the right to vote but that the Prime Minister said that he didn’t see why prisoners should get the vote, the Prime Minister’s Spokeswoman (PMS) said that there would be a debate tomorrow in the House of Commons and an expression would be made by MPs. We were currently talking to legal advisors and we would wait to see what there advice was. The Prime Minister had been clear that we wanted to do as little as possible in terms of the legal obligations that were currently placed upon us by the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Put that the Prime Minister had said today that he didn’t see why prisoners should get the vote, the PMS said that the position hadn’t changed. The Prime Minister had expressed his opinion and we were seeking legal advice.
Asked if the legal advice would change following tomorrow’s debate in the House, the PMS said that she didn’t know and wouldn’t speculate.
Asked if the Prime Minister was intending to vote tomorrow, the PMS said that she didn’t know what the Prime Minister’s plans were, but Ministers would be abstaining.
Asked if the Government would publish the legal advice, the PMS said that it would be in line with the usual process.
Asked if any consideration had been given to compensation payments to prisoners, the PMS said that we had to wait and see what the legal advice was.
Asked if the Military Covenant was legally binding, the PMS said that the fact that we had to deliver on the Military Covenant would be legally binding. We had never had a Military Covenant and in the Coalition Agreement we were clear about commitments to the armed forces, some of which we had started delivering on, for example doubling the operational allowance and providing support for education of armed forces children.
Asked if the Prime Minister had given a full and accurate representation of Sure Start funding at PMQs this afternoon, the PMS said that we were committed to Sure Start Children’s Centres, which played a crucial role in early intervention. There was enough money in the Early Intervention Grant to retain a network of Sure Start Children’s Centres, as well as providing new investment for health visitors. In 2010-11 the Department for Education protected front line Sure Start funding of £1.1bn through the Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare Grant. In the Spending Review, we announced that this grant was, from April 2011 onwards, to be preplaced by the new, simplified Early Intervention Grant, providing flexible funding for Local Authorities to provide both children’s centres and other early intervention activities, including targeted support for young people.