Asked what the entitlements would be, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that there would be an announcement shortly. The PMS advised people to check on Mark Harper’s previous statement in the Commons and the background to the announcement. We were responding to a series of judgements and complying with them, as we did not want to get into a situation where we had to compensate prisoners.
On whether the Prime Minister was doing this with a heavy heart, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister had set out his views on this in the House; it was not something he would do given a free choice. Put that this was the definitive Government position, the PMS replied that it was.
Asked about human rights legislation, the PMS said that the position was as set out in the Coalition Agreement. We would establish a commission to investigate the creation of a British Bill of Rights.
On why this was being delayed until 2012, the PMS said that it was not being delayed. The Government was making a lot of reforms at the present time, including constitutional and political reforms. We were focussed on the immediate priorities such a tackling the deficit, setting out spending plans for all Government departments and reforming key public services.
Asked if prisoner voting rights would include voting for police chiefs and mayors, the PMS advised people to wait for the announcement.
Put that the Deputy Prime Minister had said in an interview that the Government would not ‘stand idly by’ on the subject of large bankers bonuses and what did he mean by that, the PMS replied that we all wanted to see pay restraint. On taxation, the Government wanted to make sure that banks paid a fair share. The Chancellor had set out the position in the Spending Review that we wanted to ensure we had the maximum sustainable tax take from the banks.
The PMS added that we were introducing a Bank Levy in January and the FSA would be publishing a new code on remuneration today that would set out the rules governing pay and bonuses for banks in the coming period.
Asked for more detail on what the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister saw as ‘restraint’, the PMS replied that he would not set a figure. Put that predictions were suggesting that bonuses would be down as much as 40% for investment bankers and was Nick Clegg trying to take the credit for something that had already happened, the PMS said that the Deputy Prime Minister was making the point that we wanted to see restraint.
The PMS added that we were having to impose pay restraint in the public sector as part of our strategy to tackle the deficit and we wanted to see restraint in the financial sector too.
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that there could be fuel rationing, the PMS said that he did not think that was going to happen. The position was that there was sufficient fuel. The problem was getting it round the country. We had been putting into place measures that would ease that situation, such as relaxing rules on driving time.
Put that the Prime Minister was confident that fuel rationing would not take place, the PMS replied that we were actively looking at this issue and talking to Local Authorities and hauliers to make sure we were doing everything we could.