Put that the Prime Minister had signalled a rethink on the immigration cap during his speech this morning, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that it was not a rethink; the current position was that we had a temporary cap that ran until next spring and we were consulting on a cap for future years. We would be looking at the level of that cap, and wanted to make sure that it allowed businesses to bring the people they needed into the UK.
Put that there had been representations from businesses on this, the PMS said that we all knew businesses had been talking about this issue, which was why we wanted to have this period of consultation to make sure we got the policy right.
Asked what the Prime Minister’s position would be on the European budget at the European Council this week, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had set out his position on the European budget, and he would make those points at the European Council this week, and seek to build consensus around our position.
Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with the Deputy Prime Minister that there needed to be an inquiry into the Iraq Wikileaks, and if the Prime Minister could potentially ask Sir John Chilcot to extend the Iraq Inquiry’s remit and look in to specific cases involving British troops, the PMS said that what the Iraq Inquiry looked at was up to them. Our longstanding position was that there was no place for mistreatment of detainees, and we investigated any allegation made against our troops as a matter of course.
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that the information made public by Wikileaks could endanger British troops, the PMS said that he would not talk about the specifics of these documents, but clearly this kind of leak could put the lives of UK service personnel or those of our allies at risk; this was why we condemned these sorts of leaks.
Asked if we could expect legislation on bank lending in the next couple of weeks, the PMS said that the Business Department was planning to set out more detailed proposals on finance for industry in general. People should speak to BIS about next steps and timing.
Asked if the Prime Minister was confident that he would get his changes to housing benefits through, the PMS said that we would not normally comment on what we expected the outcome of votes to be, but this was an important part of the Government’s programme and we intended to see it through.