Press release

Number 10 Press Briefing - Morning From 22 July 2010

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: Sheffield Forgemasters, Prime Minister's US comments and justice

Sheffield Forgemasters

Asked about reports that businessman Andrew Cook lobbied the government to cancel the £80 million loan to Sheffield Forgemasters, the Prime Minister’s Spokeswoman (PMS) said that the government’s decision regarding Sheffield Forgemasters was based on affordability.

Asked if the Prime Minister felt there should be an inquiry into this, the PMS referred reporters to what Business Minister Mark Prisk said last night; the letter from Andrew Cook had no bearing on the decision-making process. The decision regarding Sheffield Forgemasters, alongside other items agreed by the previous administration, were based on affordability.

Asked if the letter from Andrew Cook to Mark Prisk had been shown to the Business Secretary, the PMS said that reporters should ask the Business Department.

Asked if the Prime Minister was aware of representations from Andrew Cook, the PMS said that the representations were dealt with in the same way as all others; companies and organisations lobbied government consistently, and decisions were made on strict criteria.

Asked if Andrew Cook had written to the Prime Minister, the PMS said that the Prime Minister got a lot of correspondence, which we didn’t necessarily comment on day to day.

Asked if there were plans to look through the record for correspondence from Andrew Cook, the PMS said that in general individual companies and organisations lobbied the government on a variety of issues, and decisions were made using all the facts. This particular decision was based on affordability. We would not provide a running commentary on correspondence.

Prime Minister’s US comments

Asked if the Prime Minister stood by what he said regarding Britain being the junior partner to the US in WWII, the PMS said that the Prime Minister’s words spoke for themselves.

Asked if the Prime Minister would apologise, the PMS said that the Prime Minister held our armed forces in the highest regard. The particular comment referred to was part of an interview he had given in the US; the Prime Minister had been giving a general response and referred to the 1940s. We would not make any further comments.

Asked if the Prime Minister was embarrassed by his poor grasp of history, the PMS said that she would not get into commenting on the Prime Minister’s knowledge of history; the Prime Minister held the armed forces in the highest regard. One of the people the Prime Minister looked up to was Winston Churchill and he was very proud of Britain’s achievements in the Second World War.

Justice

Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with the Justice Secretary’s proposals on prisons, the PMS said that a sentencing review was ongoing. We needed to reform the criminal justice system and we had set out how we would do that in the coalition agreement.

Asked if it would lead to a fall in crime or a rise in crime, the PMS said that the government was clear that we wanted to see crime fall. We needed to tackle crime and that was exactly what this government would do.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought that more compassion needed to be shown to criminals, the PMS said that the review into sentencing was ongoing; we needed to look at the whole of the penal system. Earlier this week we had been discussing the rights of victims and making sure that they had more of a say in the criminal justice system, and that offenders didn’t go out and offend again.