Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: betting accounts, TUC, Lockerbie, police cuts and misc.
Asked whether the announcement was linked to what the Prime Minister had talked about yesterday, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that today’s announcement concerned dormant betting accounts, rather than bank accounts.
Asked if there was any estimate on how much money could be in these accounts, the PMS replied that Don Foster MP would be compiling a report to look into the issue and part of that would be to discover how much money was actually in these accounts.
On whether that would include unclaimed lottery prizes, the PMS said that it would include betting accounts and unclaimed winning tickets but advised people to speak to DCMS on the details. Asked if the scheme would include unclaimed premium bonds, the PMS advised people to speak to DCMS.
Put that the TUC were saying that the Prime Minister had turned down an invitation to address their annual conference and could Downing Street confirm that, the PMS replied that she was unable to confirm those reports.
Asked for an idea of what the Prime Minister would say to the US Senators later on today, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister would be listening to their concerns and they had to say on the issue.
When asked if the Prime Minister would distance the national Government from the decision by the Scottish Government, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had been very clear about what his view was on the decision that was taken on Megrahi. The Prime Minister had completely disagreed with the decision made at the time and the PMS said the Prime Minister would be making that point to the Senators this evening.
The inquiry that looked at the decision made by the Scottish Government had shown that due process had been followed.
Asked about Daniel Kawczysnki’s calls for an inquiry into the release of Al-Megrahi, the PMS replied that there had already been an inquiry earlier this year into the Scottish Government’s decision, which found that due process had been followed. Since the decision had been made, a lot of information had been released through FOI and the previous Foreign Secretary had made a detailed statement to Parliament, setting out the findings and BP’s involvement.
On whether the Prime Minister felt that Mr MacAskill had made his decision in good faith, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister’s view was well known. As the Government had made clear yesterday, what we were not questioning was the right to make the decision.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that the medical evidence on which Mr MacAskill based his decision was wrong, the PMS said that the Prime Minister’s view was well known.
Asked if the Prime Minister was focussed more on the medical advice that Mr MacAskill’s decision, the PMS replied that the key thing was that this was a decision made by the Scottish Government. The Prime Minister had not been the Prime Minister at the time but had expressed his view on the decision that was taken.
Put that following the Inspectorate of Constabularies report, did the Government now accept that police numbers were likely to fall, the PMS said that the Government had made clear that the police, as with other public services, were facing tough times and we had to meet the challenges of dealing with the deficit.
Like other public services, the police needed to find the efficiencies in order to protect their frontline role and cut the bureaucracy behind it.
Put that it had been suggested that numbers would still need to come down even with changes in working practises and efficiency savings, the PMS replied that Nick Herbert had commented on this report this morning and had broadly agreed with the view that the increase in police numbers had not necessarily been reflected in the increase in the visibility of the police. He had also said that there were areas where more efficiencies could be found, such as greater force collaboration and through the reduction of bureaucracy.
Asked what the purpose of the Chancellor’s meeting with Bill Gates was, the PMS replied that it would be an opportunity to talk about Mr Gates’ foundation. The PMS added that it was a private meeting and people should speak to the Treasury for further details.