Questioned on proposals for increased capital spending, the PMS said that the Chancellor would set out details in the Autumn Statement the following day, but the Government was going to commit £5bn of capital investment to help Britain in the global race. The investment would be funded in part by decreasing some departmental resources; many departments were already over-achieving on savings and the Government wanted some to seek further efficiencies. Commitments on spending in certain areas would remain in place and planned investment would be concentrated on transport, skills, science and schools. More detail would be provided by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement.
Asked about the Culture Secretary’s Cabinet update on Leveson, the PMS said that it was a brief update on progress and initial meetings had taken place. Work on potential legislation was underway but it was important that the newspapers set up their own independent regulator as quickly as possible.
Asked about Cabinet discussions on broadband, the PMS said that discussions were relatively short but the Government was looking to meet its commitments on broadband.
Questioned on Chinese visas for the UK, the PMS said that Chinese people were increasingly coming to the UK for business reasons and tourism. The Government wanted to make it easier for visitors to come to the country for those reasons and were looking at bearing down on the bureaucracy involved when issuing visas.
West Coast Mainline
Asked about the publication of the Laidlaw Report, the PMS said it would be published in the near future.
Government Non Executive Directors
Responding to questions on Lord Browne’s Cabinet presentation on Government Non Executive Directors, the PMS said that it was a brief presentation on the progress of private sector Non Executive Directors appointments to Government departments. Lord Browne was pleased with progress to date, but there was more work to be done.
Boris Johnson Speech
Asked to comment on Boris Johnson’s speech on Britain’s relationship with Europe, the PMS said that the Government position on a referendum and relationship with Europe had not changed, but work looking at the balance of competencies was taking place.