Nordic Baltic Summit
Asked who the Prime Minister would be meeting at the summit, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said he was meeting the Norwegian Prime Minister for a bilateral today, then dinner tonight with the other leaders, and then the summit with all leaders all day tomorrow.
Health and Social Care Bill
Asked whether the Prime Minister agreed with those who said the pace of the reforms was too fast, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had dealt with this question earlier in the week. Most of the issues in the Bill had already been tested and there was a phasing-in of the proposals over a number of years. Already half the country was covered by the new GP consortia, and that the process was going well.
The PMS was asked whether the Prime Minister believed that cutting the number of MPs would cut the cost of politics. He answered that that was the intention and that the cost would go down with fewer MPs.
Put to him that the Speaker had spoken about the importance of scrutiny of the Executive being maintained if the number of MPs was reduced, and that the number of Ministers should be reduced commensurately, the PMS said it was unsurprising that the Speaker had views on the subject of number of MPs. He added that the Government agreed that there was a case for reducing the number of Ministers as well, though it was not in the present Bill. The Government was keen to ensure there was adequate scrutiny of what the Government did, as shown by the transparency agenda, which allowed Parliament and also the wider public to scrutinise what we did.
Asked about how much money would be saved, the PMS said the Cabinet Office would have be able to provide the figures.
Asked about the progress of the AV Bill, the PMS said the Government was keen to press on and would discuss the issue for as long as was required. He did not believe there was the option of a guillotine.
Asked whether there was concern that the Speaker had spoken in favour of the fox-hunting ban, the PMS said that he hadn’t seen the comments.