From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: Turkish state visit, Syria, housing strategy, working time directive, autumn statement and benefits.
Turkish state visit
Asked if the Prime Minister would be meeting the Turkish President during his visit, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said it was a state visit and the Prime Minister would see him the next day. Asked if they would discuss Turkey’s integration into the EU, the PMS said further details would be provided after the meeting. He added that the Government had a well established position in favour of EU membership for Turkey.
Asked who the Syrian opposition delegation visiting London had met, the PMS said they had met Downing Street staff. He added they would be meeting the Foreign Secretary later that day.
Asked for the Prime Minister’s reaction to comments by the Shadow Chancellor that the £400million announced in the Housing Strategy to restart staled construction projects was small beer compared to cuts in capital spending on housing, the PMS said the housing strategy was one part of what the Government was doing on housing. He said another significant element was reforming the planning system. The PMS said the main long-term problem in the housing market had been a lack of supply and the action the Government was taking was the next stage in addressing that issue.
Working time directive
Asked what the current position was in trying to reform the Working Time Directive (WTD) following talks the Prime Minister had with the German Chancellor, the PMS said the Government was expecting a report from Herman Von Rompuy to the European Council in early December that would set out options for improving the economic governance of the eurozone, and he had been asked to look at the option of limited treaty change. The PMS said the WTD was highlighted in the coalition agreement, which said the Government would work to limit the application of the WTD in the UK.
Asked how the Government could achieve the coalition agreement commitment to limit the WTD application, the PMS said the UK would look for opportunities in EU negotiations to further the UK national interests such as the application of the WTD, or how to improve functioning of the single market.
Asked if negotiations started with the Prime Minister meeting Chancellor Merkel, the PMS said it was usual for talks to take place in the run up to a European Council.
Asked if it was still the Government’s intention to pay off the structural deficit by 2014/15, the PMS said the fiscal mandate was unchanged and there would be an update in the autumn statement.
Asked further questions on the fiscal mandate, the PMS said there was a rolling 5-year mandate for the deficit and an update would be provided in the autumn statement.
Asked about a possible announcement on credit easing, the PMS said lots of markets were suffering from the credit crunch. We needed to unblock those markets if we wanted to get credit flowing and businesses to invest. He said the Chancellor would provide details on a new credit easing scheme next week.
Asked if the Prime Minister was ruling out changes to taxation in the autumn statement, the PMS said taxation was a matter for the Chancellor.
Asked if the Prime Minister had made a decision on the uprating of benefits, the PMS said there was a process in which a benefits uprating order was published, usually in early December, and suggested journalists wait for that.