Answering questions on EU budget talks the PMS said that the Prime Minister spoke yesterday to President Van Rompuy, Enda Kenny and the Czech Prime Minister as we continued our work to find a deal on the EU Budget. Van Rompuy updated the Prime Minister on his discussions with other leaders and the Prime Minister set out his position. European spending could not be immune while we have made cuts at home. Although the proposals were a step in the right direction there were areas that needed to be improved, and we thought the UK’s rebate was fully justified. The Prime Minister was trying to get a deal, engaging with a number of European leaders and demonstrating where we thought it was possible to find savings in the EU budget.
Asked how the Government could make sure that consumers had lower energy prices the PMS said we were changing the law to make sure people got the lowest tariff and there was a regulator to ensure proper competition. Part of the reason the market was not working was because of the complexity of the market. That meant only a small number of customers switch between providers. By simplifying the tariff structure you would get better competition in the market which would drive down prices. Our energy policy WAS designed to deliver a balanced energy mix over time, delivering low prices to consumers and ensuring security over supply.
Answering questions on the latest borrowing figures the PMS said the economy was healing but still faced many challenges. What the figures showed was that the Government’s spending plans remained on target. Receipts were slightly lower than forecast at budget reflecting the global economic situation and the downward revision we had seen to growth prospects since March. As we made clear when we received a positive figure for growth in quarter three the UK continueD to face challenging economic circumstanceS and it would take some time to get the deficit down. We would be sticking to our planned reductions and borrowing was still a quarter down on April 2010.
Asked for the Prime Minister’s reaction on women bishops the PMS said his personal view was that there should be women bishops and he shared the disappointment of the Archbishop that the Synod was unable to agree how to take this forward. It was ultimately a matter for the church to decide but clearly he shared the disappointment of the Archbishop.
Answering questions on votes for prisoners the PMS said that The Prime Minister’s position on prison votes was very clear that prisoners should not be allowed to vote. The view of parliament was also clearly expressed earlier in the year. The Prime Minister’s view was that when you go to prison you lose certain rights and one of those is the right to vote.