from the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: high speed rail, public services white paper, sentencing, Steve Hilton, Greece, strikes, parliamentary timetable and 1st Sea Lord.
High speed rail
Asked to name the preferred bidder for High Speed rail, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) confirmed it was Siemens.
Public Services White Paper
In response to the suggestion that the Public Services White Paper would be delayed, the PMS said that it would be published before the summer recess and that reports speculating that it would be delayed until early autumn were inaccurate.
Asked if proposals would still be in a White Paper, the PMS confirmed that there was no change to the plan to publish a White Paper.
Asked to explain the delay to the White Paper, the PMS reminded the lobby that publication was expected to be before the summer.
Asked why it was important to have a White Paper, the PMS directed the lobby to an article in which the Prime Minister had set out the priorities for the White Paper.
Put that the Government’s enthusiasm for White Papers had been dampened, the PMS said that the Government had been announcing a series of reforms of public services - to police, to health, to education. The Government was pressing on with these and getting the job done.
Asked when the sentencing bill would be announced, the PMS replied that it would be announced in due course.
Asked if Steve Hilton was leaving Downing Street, the PMS said that he was not.
Asked if the Prime Minister would be having any conversations to discuss the situation in Greece, the PMS said the Prime Minister had a number of commitments in Lincoln today.
Asked if he recognised reports that the UK would be liable for billions of pounds to bail out Greece, the PMS replied that he would not comment on speculation. He reminded the lobby that a package had been agreed, and the UK was not contributing to that package.
Asked for a readout of the Prime Minister’s meeting with Francis Maude, the PMS responded that there was no change on the Government’s position on strikes.
Asked if Francis Maude was updating the Prime Minister on the situation or discussing contingency plans, the PMS declined to comment on meetings between the Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers.
Asked if is was possible to quantify the level of strike action at which the Government will be forced to act; the PMS said that the Government would keep the situation under active review.
On the issue of the Lords reducing their recess time to allow for more scrutiny time, the PMS was asked if the Commons would follow suit, he said that the timetable for the Lords is a matter for the business managers.
1st Sea Lord
Asked about the Prime Minister’s reaction to the suggestion that the First Sea Lord was given a ‘dressing down’, the PMS said that the Government had already given its position on this matter.