Human Rights Act
Asked what would happen to the Human Rights Act in that the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and the Prime Minister (PM) had different opinions, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that there was a coalition position, set out in the coalition agreement, to set up a commission which is now looking at a the bill of rights, and we were looking to reform the European Court when we take over the presidency in November. The PMS added that positions set out over the conference period were political opinions.
Asked if the Chancellor was going to ECOFIN with any particular message, the PMS said that he had set out the arguments he would make in an interview that morning. The PMS summarised the Chancellor’s words, saying that the Eurozone needed to increase the size and firepower of their financial fund for bailouts (a fund that the UK would not be a part of), they needed to deal with their weak banks (as Britain has), that they needed to decide what they are doing with Greece and stick to that decision, and finally, on the timetable, the Chancellor said that Europe needed to deal with this now, with urgency.
Asked if the UK would contribute if the EU fund appealed to the IMF, the PMS said that Britain would uphold its longstanding commitment to the IMF, but that it would not be part of a new, specific, eurozone bail out fund.
Asked for the Government’s response to Greece’s announcement about not meeting its deficit plans, the PMS said it was not for us to dictate to them what should happen, but the Chancellor had set out a strong position regarding what he thinks about the Eurozone and the current situation.
Asked if the priority was hastening spend, ensuring no one is under spending or giving a bit back, the PMS said that the PM was clear that his priority was to get the economy on track, deal with the deficit and debt, and focus on growth. The PMS said that the Government had set conditions for this - low interest rates, low corporate tax. On the other hand the PM recognised that families were finding it difficult, and he tried to ease the burden while meeting the key concerns and interests that people have eg collection of waste, and council tax. These would be funded through under spend across Whitehall departments.
Asked if the priority was giving back, the PMS said that they didn’t want to upset the plans in place, but that they could use some of the under spend on priorities for families. However she said that we would still be meeting our spending commitments that will deliver the savings we require to help deal with the deficit and the record debt.