News story

Number 10 Press Briefing - Morning 11 May 2012

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

Leveson, British intelligence and civil service reform were among the topics discussed at this press briefing.

Leveson

Asked whether the PM was watching the Leveson Inquiry, the PMS said that the PM had a full diary.

Asked whether the PM had any copies of the texts sent to Rebekah Brooks, the PMS said that the PM would provide any evidence the Leveson Inquiry asked for.

Asked whether the PM was relaxed about Charlie Brooks offering his text messages to the Leveson Inquiry, the PMS said he had nothing further to add on the Leveson Inquiry. We would not be providing a running commentary.

Asked about the PM’s attitude to the phone hacking allegations, the PMS said that the PM had set up a public inquiry to look into the issue because he thought phone hacking was unacceptable.

Asked whether there was any explanation for Andy Coulson attending meetings of the NSC without appropriate security clearance, the PMS said that Andy Coulson had the appropriate security clearance.

Asked whether vetting process looked at details of shareholdings, the PMS said that this was a slightly separate issue dealt with by the civil service management code. People were asked to declare their interests on appointment.

Asked about sanctions for those who broke the rules, the PMS said that it would depend on the circumstances of the specific case.

Asked whether the PM was doing anything to investigate why the code was not followed, the PMS said that the code was there to help guide departments and ensure civil servants behaved correctly. Issues concerning the security of information and vetting were the responsibility of the Permanent Secretary of the department in question. People were required to declare their interests.

Asked whether the code was based on trust, the PMS said that it required people to declare their interests.

Asked whether the PM had a personal phone and a work phone, the PMS said that he was not going to discuss issues relating to the Leveson Inquiry. If the PM was asked for material by the Leveson Inquiry, he would provide it.

British Intelligence

Asked whether the PM was concerned that British intelligence had been disclosed in the US, and whether he would take action, the PMS said that we did not comment on intelligence issues but he understood there was an investigation underway in the US.

Civil Service Reform

Asked whether the PM believed that underperforming civil servants should be fired, the PMS said that it was currently possible to dismiss people in the civil service if they were not performing to the required standard.

Asked whether there were any new reforms in the pipeline, the PMS said that the Government waslooking at the issue of public sector reform including how we manage the civil service.

Asked whether a new measure of performance management would be introduced, the PMS said that this was one issue which Sir Bob Kerslake was considering.

Asked whether one department would road test a 70% cut in staffing levels, the PMS said that the Government was not proposing 70 per cent cuts.

Police Force Reform

Asked whether the PM was alarmed by the hostility to cuts in the police force, the PMS said that the cuts were challenging but manageable. The Government was taking difficult decisions and the police force could not be excluded. The PMS said that we believed efficiencies could be made whilst protecting the front line.

Scotland

Asked what the PM would like to see next on the subject of the Scottish referendum, the PMS said that the PM would like to see further talks between the Secretary of State and the First Minister, as the continued uncertainty was damaging.