Number 10 Press Briefing - Morning Friday 14 December 2012
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on Europe, drugs, equal marriage and mid-term review.
Asked whether the PM thought the banking deal would create a two tier Europe, the PMS said, as the Chancellor set out yesterday, there were safeguards for those who were not in the Eurozone - this was a good outcome for the UK.
Asked if the PM agreed with the DPM on drugs policy, the PMS said the PM had set out earlier this week what his views were. He did not support decriminalisation. We had a policy that was working - drug use was coming down, the emphasis on treatment was right and we needed to continue with that to make sure we made a difference. The PM said we did need to do more to keep drugs out of our prisons and he did not support a Royal Commission.
Asked if the PM was relaxed about the DPM expressing his view, the PMS said that in a coalition there would be times when there were differences of opinion. But as far as the PM was concerned, he had made clear the policy was working.
Asked if the Coalition was disagreeing more often after splits on Leveson and the Comms Data Bill, the PMS reiterated that in a coalition there would be occasions when people had different views - that was made clear at the start of the Coalition Government.
Asked if the PM and DPM had spoken before the PM expressed his views, the PMS said they discussed many things together. Responding to questions on who the public should believe on drugs policy, the PMS made clear we had a government policy on drugs and the PM had said he thought it was working. He had acknowledged that we needed to do more, for example to keep drugs out of prisons.
Asked why the PM had changed his mind on decriminalisation, the PMS reiterated that the PM had set out his position clearly on Monday. He did not support decriminalisation. Asked if the war on drugs was failing, the PMS said the Government’s policy was working - drug use was coming down.
Asked about why Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne was going around the world collecting a dossier of decriminalisation, the PMS said it was usual for government to keep polices under review and look at examples of policies in different countries.
Asked if the DPM spoke for the Government, the PMS said we had a government policy on drugs and it was the PM’s view that it was working. Asked if drugs policy was under review, the PMS said the PM had made his views clear on Monday. We needed to do more in some areas to make sure we made a difference. We kept policies under review - but the PM’s view was that we had a policy that was working because drug use is coming down.
Asked why the PM had rejected a Royal Commission, the PMS said that a Royal Commission would take some time to set up and may not necessarily be the answer.
Asked if Maria Miller had warned the Church of England that the Government was going to do something it didn’t want, the PMS said it was not true to say we had not properly discussed proposals with the Church. This was part of the consultation process. Before the proposals were finalised, government officials had met the Church at senior levels. The discussions with the Church had been quite specific about the quadruple lock. The Church put forward their points regarding legal provisions, and the Government then announced its final position. The PMS said discussions were ongoing with the Church and other organisations in order to take the proposals forward.
Asked about the timing and content of the Coalition’s Mid-term Review, the PMS said there would be an announcement in the New Year. The Coalition would be taking on fresh challenges including pensions, transport and others. The PM believed the fixed-term parliament was having a beneficial effect because it meant that in the middle years of parliament politicians weren’t simply looking at the winning post but were looking at what they should be doing now to help the country.