Asked about the respite care available for a family from South Gloucestershire, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said the Prime Minister planned to write to the family in question and to the local MP, and that he was very concerned about the case.
Asked about funding, he added that levels of respite care were decided on by councils, and that the funding stream which paid for it came from the Department for Education’s Early Intervention Grant (EIG), which the Spending Review settlement had set at £800m over four years, an increase from 2010. The PMS added that the Government believed it was possible for the whole of the public sector to be more efficient, with tighter spending, so that frontline services could be preserved.
Asked about the removing of ring-fending, the PMS said this gave councils the freedom to make funding decisions based on the different issues they faced. He added that councils were best-placed to decide on local spending needs and ending ring-fencing meant they could respond better to their particular needs. The PMS said the Government did not accept the argument that Whitehall knew how best to allocate every bit of money because managing from the centre did not get the right results.
He added that the Prime Minister was keen that local carers were properly supported and that that should be possible on the basis of the funding settlement.
Asked about Baroness Warsi’s forthcoming speech on faith, the PMS said that there was an issue with radicalisation in this country, and with terrorism. The points that Baroness Warsi was making was that we needed to have a debate about that and she was saying this was a difficult issue. The PMS added that there was an issue with radicalisation and we needed to think very carefully why this was happening and the impact of our actions on that. Asked what the Prime Minister’s view was, the PMS said that he thought it was a very important debate.
Asked what the Government’s position on prisoner voting was, the PMS answered that the intention was to ensure that the minimum number of prisoners were given the vote. He added that the issue was a historical problem and that a number of cases and compensation claims by prisoners had built up, going back a number of years. That could not be ignored.
Asked what the threshold which set which prisoners got the vote would be, the PMS said this was a matter for legal advice, and that the legal advice needed to be carefully examined. The PMS added that the policy could be tested in the courts but that the objective was to keep it to a minimum.
Asked what the Prime Minister’s view would be of a Commons motion on the subject going against the Government, the PMS said that because this question referred to a motion, rather than a piece of Government legislation being put to the House, this would simply be Parliament expressing a view.
Asked if there would an announcement on control orders today, the PMS said he understood that there would be an announcement on this next week.
Asked whether the Prime Minister believed the Speaker had remained impartial, the PMS said this was a question for the Speaker to answer.