President of the European Council
Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with the European Council President and his plan to seek a United States of Europe, the PMS said the Prime Minister answered many questions on the European Union yesterday afternoon. The purpose of the meeting was to look ahead to the Autumn and the European Council in October. They would be discussing a number of issues including the European economy, the Eurozone and also the European Union’s response to the Arab Spring.
Asked if one of the Government’s MPs would be hosting a dinner paid for by the Syrian dictator’s nephew, the PMS said there was no member of the Government involved in this dinner.
Asked if the Prime Minister was confident that his economic plan was working, the PMS said the Chancellor set out our position last night in a long speech on the economy.
Asked again if the Prime Minister believed that there was no reason to think again about stimulating the economy, the PMS said that the Chancellor went through this in great detail in his speech last night. The argument he was setting out was that action taken by each country needs to be calibrated to its economic situation. Those countries that have large debts and large budget deficits and therefore face significant fiscal risks, need to deal with those deficits.
50p Tax Rate
Asked if it was still the Government’s policy to abolish the 50p rate, the PMS said the policy was, as set out by the Chancellor at the time of the Budget. The 50p rate was a temporary measure. The Chancellor had asked HM Revenue & Customs to conduct some analysis on the amount of money that was being raised by the 50p rate, but obviously any decisions on tax were a matter for the Chancellor at the time of the Budget.
Asked when the Prime Minister asked the HM Revenue & Customs and how long ago it was, the PMS said the Chancellor had announced this in the Budget earlier this year.
Put that Lib Dems were pointing out that the Coalition Agreement states that raising the Personal Allowance to £10,000 takes priority over all other tax changes, the PMS confirmed that the Coalition Agreement made clear that increases in the Personal Allowance would be prioritised before other tax cuts. That was the Government’s policy.