Asked whether the Chancellor had spoken about treaty negotiations as part of his update to Cabinet on the G7 meeting, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that the Chancellor had spoken about the difficulties that the Eurozone was facing, the issue of further fiscal integration and discussions around the possibly of a treaty change at some point in the future. The PMS added that the Chancellor did not put a specific timeframe on this.
Asked whether Cabinet Ministers had discussed opportunities that treaty change could provide, the PMS said that the discussion on the economy had been about the international situation and the implications for the UK. The PMS added that most of the discussion had been about action the Government was taking to boost growth and the importance of delivering the spending plans that the Government had set out. The PMS said that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury had said he would be having discussions with Departments over the next few months to ensure that they were taking the necessary action to deliver those spending plans.
Asked whether there had been any discussion in Cabinet about monetary policy or asset purchases, the PMS said that there had been a discussion about macro-economic policy - what the government was doing on the fiscal policy side and monetary conditions.
Asked what the government’s policy was on quantitative easing, the PMS said that quantitative easing was a matter for the Bank of England which was independent. The PMS added that there was an inflation target and the Bank of England set policy in order to meet that inflation target.
Asked whether the Prime Minister was concerned that the Chancellor may be distracted from focusing on the economy following the media reports concerning him, the PMS replied that the Chancellor was 100 per cent focused on the economy.
Asked whether inflation had been discussed at the Cabinet meeting, the PMS responded that the latest inflation statistics had been released earlier in the day and the Chancellor had updated the Cabinet on those.
Boundary commission proposals
Asked whether the Prime Minister had digested the Boundary Commission’s report and whether the Prime Minister had any sympathy for colleagues who may be affected, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister was aware of the Boundary Commission’s proposals, adding that this was happening because the government believed it would result in a more equal and fair system. The PMS said that the constituencies that were used in the 2010 General Election varied widely in size and this process would ensure that everyone’s vote had a more equal weight. This process would also reduce the number of MPs and bring down the size and the cost of the Commons.
Asked about the Prime Minister’s thoughts on whether this would be voted down in 2013 or whether the Prime Minister would have sympathy if it was delayed, the PMS responded that there would be a period of consultation and it would then be voted on by the House of Commons. The PMS said that the government believed the policy of reducing the size and cost of the Commons and ensuring that everyone’s vote had the same weight was the right one. The PMS added that it was government policy to ensure that this happened, as had been set out in the Coalition Agreement.
Asked what the rationale was behind changing weekly benefits payments to monthly ones under the Universal Credit, the PMS replied that most working people received wages on a monthly basis and had to plan their expenditure accordingly. These reforms would bring the benefits system in line with that.
Asked whether the PM had met with or was planning any meetings with property developers, the PMS replied that there were no meetings planned. The PMS added that the consultation was being led by the Department for Communities and Local Government who would be meeting people who had an interest in planning policy.