On support for military personnel, North Korea, banking reform, pensions negotiations and International Monetary Fund.
Military personnel support
Asked about media reports about the Prime Minister’s support for servicemen and women, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said the Ministry of Defence would make an announcement tomorrow, which would set out our plans for a cabinet committee to ensure that all departments were joined up in supporting troops and veterans.
Asked for the Prime Minister’s reaction to the death of the North Korean leader, the PMS said he had nothing to add to the Foreign Secretary’s statement.
Asked if European regulations really were an obstacle to implementing the Vickers recommendations on banking reform, the PMS said the point made by the Prime Minister was that there was some legal uncertainty about whether or not individual countries could go further on financial regulation in certain areas. He added that the Chancellor would set out the detailed response to Vickers this afternoon.
Asked about comments from Michel Barnier, the European Union internal market commissioner, that there were no barriers, the PMS said there was some legal uncertainty.
Asked if it was the case that banking reform laws would be passed by 2015 and then implemented several years after, the PMS said the Chancellor would set out the detail to Parliament this afternoon.
Asked if teachers’ unions were correct in saying that a resolution to pension discussions was imminent, the PMS said we have been continuing to talk to the unions about pensions reform, that the Government had always wanted to reach an agreement before the end of the year, and that we were hopeful of doing so.
Asked if there had been significant developments between the strikes on 30 November and now, the PMS said there had been meetings and there were more taking place today, and that some progress had been made.
Asked how you defined the end of the year, the PMS said that the Minister for the Cabinet Office had told the House the previous week that the Government was committed to providing an update to the House before it rose, so he would expect there would be an update tomorrow.
Asked if it was still the Government policy to withdraw its offer if agreement was not reached, the PMS said that the Government position was as it was set out on 2 November. He added that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury had said that the Government could withdraw the offer at any time if he chose to do so, and that the Government was hoping to reach an agreement by the end of the year.
Asked if the Government was trying to divide and rule the unions, the PMS said there were different schemes with different characteristics, and different workforces too. Asked if there was any room for manoeuvre, and if that would be at the scheme rather than the general level, the PMS said the issues being discussed were scheme level details.
Asked if the Prime Minister and Chancellor had been directly involved in the talks, the PMS said no.
International Monetary Fund
Asked if there had been any change in terms of the UK’s contribution towards the International Monetary Fund bailout of the Eurozone, the PMS said no. The PMS added that later today there would be a phone call of European finance ministers and that the Chancellor would take part.