Asked whether Cabinet had discussed the possibility of strike action, the PMS said a short discussion was planned, primarily covering impacts on various departments.
Asked about the PM’s views on the proposed strike action, the PMS said the Government had been clear that reform to public sector pensions was necessary and that the proposals we had set out represented a fair deal for both public sector workers and taxpayers. He added that as we were in the middle of discussions with trade unions, we considered strike action on Thursday to be premature.
Asked for the Government’s response to press reports that children were failing to receive chemotherapy and whether there was a possibility of the UK sending medical aid to help, the PMS said that we were working hard to ensure humanitarian aid got through and that had been a priority from the start. He added that we had been successful in ensuring humanitarian aid got through to Misrata and there was a temporary funding mechanism in place which gave financial support to the TNC (Transitional National Council). He further added that we were doing our best to ensure that humanitarian aid, including medical supplies, got through and efforts were being coordinated by the UN.
Asked for the CDS’s current assessment on the military operation, the PMS said he had described it as a successful operation. He added that the CDS had reminded people that at the start of process, Benghazi was 24 hours away from being overrun by Gaddafi. Asked what defined success for the operation, the PMS said the objective of the military operation had been to protect Libyan civilians and we had been successful in achieving that aim.
Asked whether the Cabinet had discussed costs, the PMS said it had been noted by the Defence Secretary but no detailed discussion had taken place. He added that the Defence Secretary had made the point that some of the munitions we were using were expensive but we were choosing to use these smart weapons as they were the best way to protect civilian life.
Asked whether the CDS had said whether the armed forces could maintain their presence in Libya for as long as necessary, the PMS said yes, that was our position.
Higher Education White Paper
Asked for a response to opposition claims that our sole aim was to drive down costs as too many universities were charging now the full £9000 fees, the PMS said that we had always planned to publish further details in a White Paper.
Asked for a response to accusations that Government was making policy up on the hoof, the PMS said that he didn’t accept the claim and that the proposals in the White Paper had built on recommendations set out in Lord Browne’s report.
Asked whether this was about opening universities up to competition, the PMS said this was about giving students more choice.