Asked if the Government felt it had done all it could ahead of tomorrow’s strike action and why there hadn’t been last minute talks with the unions, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that there had been meetings with the unions and would be more meetings in the coming weeks, but that some of the unions were pre-empting these.
Asked why Ministers hadn’t invited union leaders for last minute talks, the PMS said that lots of meetings had taken place and talks were ongoing, he added that many unions were not taking action for that reason.
Asked if the Education Secretary spoke to the teaching unions last night, the PMS confirmed that he had, and pointed out that the biggest teaching union was not on strike because they wanted to continue with the talks.
Asked if the PM was confident that the UK’s borders would be secure during the strike action, the PMS said that contingency plans had been considered and were in place to deal with issues anticipated as a result of the strike action by UK Border Agency staff.
Asked If MPs should continue to receive their generous pension payments, the PMS confirmed that the current system for MPs was not sustainable and would need to be reformed.
Asked how Downing Street would be affected by the strikes, the PMS said he expected no disruption to the operations in the PM’s office, and very low numbers of staff taking strike action.
Asked if the Justice Secretary’s comments that there would be no new legislation around self defence were accurate, the PMS said the objective was that home owners and shop keepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their property should not be prosecuted, but that how we meet the objective, whether by a change in legislation or guidelines, is to be decided. The PMS said that the important thing was to meet the objective.
Asked if the rights to defend property that exists in common law would be moved to statutory law, the PMS said that the PM had laid out the objective and that the Government was looking at how best to achieve it.
Asked if the Justice’s Secretary’s comments that IPPs would be repealed were accurate, the PMS said that they were being reviewed with a view to replacing them with tough determinate sentences.
Asked if the PM was content that the Justice Secretary had decided the conclusion to the review of IPPs, the PMS said that the review was ongoing. He explained that there was a lack of clarity in the current system, that there were very different outcomes in different cases, and that the judiciary had raised this as an issue. In response the Government was reviewing the system with a view to replacing it, but it would listen to the full range of arguments during the review.
Asked why the Government wanted to get rid of IPPs when the reoffending rate was as low as 5%, the PMS said the Government was looking at a range of ways to cut reoffending.
Asked if there was a connection between announcing the date for withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan with the attacks in Kabul last night, the PMS referred them to the Foreign Secretary’s statement.
Asked if the Government recognised comments from military advisers that violence always increased when dates of a withdrawal was announced, the PMS said that the Government had always known that the insurgency would continue to mount attacks, but we will not allow them to undermine the process of transition planned.