Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with the Defence Secretary that whatever the replacement for Trident would be we needed a continuous at sea deterrent, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that our position was that we should retain a nuclear deterrent. The coalition agreement set out the policy and the fact that we would be looking at value for money issues. All defence issues were being considered as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review.
Asked for the Prime Minister’s response to possible trade union strikes in protest at the government’s spending cuts, the PMS said that we wanted there to be a genuine partnership with the trade unions, as Cabinet Minister, Francis Maude had been saying this morning. We wanted to work with the trade unions in tackling this record deficit.
Asked why the International Development Secretary was the only Minister at the TUC conference, the PMS said the Prime Minister had been invited but declined because he had expected to be on paternity leave at the time.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that existing legislation on trade union ballots and strikes was sufficient, the PMS said yes; we had no plans to change anything.
Asked about changes to the Queen’s Speech, the PMS said that it related to the move to fixed-term Parliaments.
Asked if the Palace had been consulted, the PMS said that he was sure the normal consultations had taken place and the Leader’s office would have more details.
Asked if the Prime Minister would be meeting the Pope, the PMS said yes; they would have a private meeting on Saturday.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought anything good came out of the Basel committee, the PMS said yes; the regime needed to be looked at in the wake of the financial crisis. One of the problems that we had previously was that banks did not have sufficient capital held against potential losses and these proposals were designed to deal with that.