BAE merger, Hillsborough, migration, universal credits, Liam Fox, Speaker's pension and the Middle East were discussed at this press brief.
Merger Talks between BAE Systems and EADS
Asked about the talks of a merger between BAE Systems and EADS, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that it was a commercial matter which was market sensitive and that the Department for Business had issued a statement yesterday setting out our position. Asked about the Prime Minister’s involvement, the PMOS confirmed that the PM was being kept informed of the discussions. In response to further questions, the PMOS explained that given the nature of the companies’ activities, the Government would want to make sure that the UK’s public interest was properly protected, and the Government was working with the companies to ensure that was the case.
Hillsborough Panel Report
Asked whether the Prime Minister had any view on calls to remove the Knighthood from Sir Irvine Patnick, the PMOS said that was a matter for the forfeiture committee. It was for the chair of that committee to decide whether the committee should investigate specific cases. In response to further questions, he said that there was an independent committee and it was right to allow that committee to take its own decisions.
Asked whether the PM still had faith in Sir Norman Bettison, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, the PMOS said the PM had made a statement the previous day to the Commons setting out his views. In response to further questions about what would happen next, the PMOS said that it was a long report and people would be looking at the detail, including the Attorney General and the Home Office. He said there would be an opportunity for a further debate on this subject in the House in October.
Migration - ONS
Asked whether students should be included in migration statistics, the PMOS said that this was a matter for the Office for National Statistics. He explained that the ONS published a figure for net migration, which included students, but they also produced a breakdown.
Asked about the universal credits policy, the PMOS said that it was a very important project for this Government and significant resource was going into making sure that it was implemented effectively.
Asked about the reports of comments by Laim Fox on economic issues, the PMOS said that tax was a matter for the Chancellor, and that on the issue of benefits for wealthier pensioners such as free TV licenses, there was a clear commitment in the Coalition Agreement.
Asked about the Speaker’s pension, the PMOS said that this was a matter for the Speaker. He explained that the legislation abolished the Great Offices of State pensions for future Speakers, Prime Ministers and Lord Chancellors.
Asked about violence in the Middle East, the PMOS said that the Government was concerned about the violence and that the PM had sent a letter to President Obama yesterday expressing his condolences following the attack on United States officials in Benghazi. He said that the safety of British diplomatic staff in the region, was a priority and kept under constant review.