The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on the Programme for Government Update, winter fuel payments and the House of Lords in this briefing session.
The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) said the Queen had been pleased to approve the appointment of Viscount Younger of Leckie as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills following the resignation from Government of Lord Marland; and Lord Popat of Harrow as a Lord in Waiting (Government Whip).
Programme for Government Update (PGU)
Asked when the PGU would be published, the PMS said it would be published later today.
Asked when the decision had been taken to publish the PGU, the PMS said it had been a long standing intention to publish the document. It was a long document that went through the coalition agreement line by line and the facts must be fully checked.
Asked whether the intention had always been to publish the PGU separately, the PMS said the intention had been to publish it as soon as it was ready.
Asked who took the decision to publish the PGU, the PMS said it had been a Government decision.
Asked whether the PGU had not been published on Monday because it wasn’t completed, the PMS said the facts had had to be fully checked and this had involved every government department.
Asked when work began on the PGU, the PMS said work had begun in the autumn.
Asked whether one issue or section had needed looking at again, the PMS said fact checking had taken place across the document.
Asked what part possible negative media coverage had played in the decision of when to publish the PGU, the PMS said that it was not unusual to consider presentational aspects of announcements, including ensuring the facts had been correct.
Asked whether he accepted that presentationally, publishing the PGU had not been a success, the PMS said the PGU would set out the progress that had been made.
Put that the Government was not being as transparent as it presented itself to be, the PMS said readers would be able to see progress against the coalition agreement line by line.
Asked if the PGU would be similar to departmental business plans, or whether it would look at each bullet of the coalition agreement, the PMS said the assembled press should wait for the document to be published.
Asked if the PGU would be a scorecard, the PMS said it would be a stock take of progress.
Asked whether the Prime Minister thought 90 per cent was a good success rate for a government, the PMS said the Prime Minister’s view was that a good government would deliver its agenda and that the PGU would show this.
Asked how the Prime Minister felt about progress in the last two years, the PMS said the Prime Minister’s view was that a lot had been done, and there was much more to do.
Asked what the purpose of the PGU was, the PMS said it had been designed to provide a stock take of progress against the commitments in the coalition agreement.
Asked who the PGU was for, the PMS said it was for everyone who was interested and above all members of the public.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had spoken to Patrick Rock, the PMS said he had not been aware that he had.
Asked how the PGU would be published, the PMS confirmed it would be placed online.
Winter fuel payments
Asked whether there was any intention to withdraw winter fuel payments from people living in the Costa Brava, the PMS referred the assembled media to the Department for Work and Pensions.
House of Lords
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned about a high level of staff turnover in the House of Lords, the PMS said that Lord Strathclyde had been on the front bench for 25 years.