On Deputy Prime Minister speech and tax, Davos, Falklands, crime and Scotland.
Deputy Prime Minister Speech and Tax
Asked whether the Prime Minister agreed that measures to increase the Income Tax Personal Allowance should be made faster, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said tax decisions were a matter for the Budget, but that the Coalition Agreement set out the tax priorities of the Government, in particular the priority to increase the Personal Allowance over other tax cuts.
Asked whether the Prime Minister welcomed discussion of tax policy, the PMS said the Deputy Prime Minister was setting out his policy priorities and that increasing the Personal Allowance was a Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment, and a a commitment in the Coalition Agreement. He said there was a process for taking decisions on tax as part of a Budget and there would be discussions, including the Deputy Prime Minister at that time.
Asked if the Prime Minister and Chancellor had seen the speech before delivery, the PMS said they had seen it.
Asked if the Deputy Prime Minister was calling for the Personal Allowance to be greater than £10,000, the PMS referred the lobby to the text of the speech.
Asked if the proposal on the Personal Allowance could be characterised as an economic stimulus measure, the PMS said the Deputy Prime Minister was not proposing a change in the fiscal stance and referred the lobby to HM Treasury for further technical information.
Asked about whether the Prime Minister believed there was no hope for Doha trade talks, based on his speech to Davos delegates earlier, the PMS said the Prime Minister had said a year previously that 2011 was the crucial year for Doha, but progress had not been made. The PMS said the Prime Minister was saying the UK was not turning its back on multi-lateralism and needed to continue working with the World Trade Organisation. The PMS said the Doha talks were still on the table.
Asked whether the Prime Minister felt the Government had irritated the Argentine Government with comments on the Falkland Islands, the PMS said the Government’s position on the issue had not changed and it had not said anything different in recent weeks to what had been said previously.
Asked whether there was a link between falling police numbers and statistics on violent crime, the PMS said the Government did not believe there was a direct relationship between every pound spent in Government and outcomes, and that there were opportunities for savings to be made in the police as in other public services. In the police service, there was considerable scope to make efficiencies in backroom functions without harming front line operations.
Asked about the Scottish Government’s proposed referendum question, the PMS said the UK Government was holding a consultation asking for people’s views on the question or questions to be posed and would listen to views expressed in that consultation.
Asked about whether the Bank of England could act as lender of last resort for an independent Scotland, the PMS said this was one of the issues that would need to be addressed in the debate over independence and that Danny Alexander gave a speech exploring some of these issues at the end of 2011, including the risks of having monetary union without fiscal union.