Asked if there was any further news on the aid workers kidnapped in Somalia, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that we had seen the reports and were looking into the situation.
Asked if Bill Wiggin had resigned and if not, why not, the PMS said that he had not resigned. The Committee had asked him to apologise and pay a sum of money back and he was doing that.
Put that the Prime Minister had commented on Bill Wiggin on GMTV last year, the PMS said that in the GMTV interview, the Prime Minister was referring to phantom mortgages and Bill Wiggin had been cleared on that issue.
Put that the report concluded that the evidence showed that Bill Wiggin had more likely than not claimed for expenditure he did not incur, the PMS said that the report recommended a course of action that involved Bill Wiggin repaying a sum of money and apologising.
Asked what the Prime Minister’s position was on the matter, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister’s position on this was that Bill Wiggin would cooperate with the findings of the report.
Strategic Defence Review
Asked if the Strategic Defence Review had gone to the printers yet, the PMS said that he did not know but advised people to speak to the Cabinet Office on printing deadlines for various documents.
Asked if the Ministry of Defence had settled with the Treasury, the PMS replied that we would be settling with all departments so we would be able to make announcements next week.
Put that the Prime Minister was adamant that the Defence settlement be reached today, the PMS said that we would be making announcements on the Strategic Defence Review on Monday and Tuesday and on the Spending Review on Wednesday.
Asked whether the Prime Minister thought that Hillary Clinton’s remarks were appropriate, the PMS said that the Foreign Secretary had spoken to media about this, this morning. Hillary Clinton had been talking about defence cuts across Europe and she was absolutely right when she said that each country had to make its appropriate contribution to NATO, and the UK would be doing that.
Asked if he could confirm that Britain would maintain its commitment to NATO, the PMS said that people would need to wait until next week for numbers to be confirmed. Put that the UK’s commitment would ease, the PMS said that we were fully committed to NATO and would make our contribution to it. The PMS added that we would remain a significant military power.
Asked whether the £7bn premium would be ‘barnetised’, the PMS said that the Deputy Prime Minister had set out some details today, but full details would be set out next week.
Asked where the £7bn funding had come from, the PMS said that the total amount being spent by the Government over the next few years was set out in the Budget and it would be part of that. Put that it would come from the Education budget, the PMS replied that more information on budgets would be announced next week.