Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: Policing White Paper, Afghanistan leaks, MPs' pensions and the Prime Minister's holiday.
Policing White Paper
Asked if there would be a leak inquiry into the White Paper appearing in a Sunday newspaper, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press to speak to the Home Office.
Asked if it was the Government’s intention to see directly elected Police Commissioners within two years, the PMS said that the Government’s position on elected individuals was well known and advised people to wait for more detail in this afternoon’s statement.
Asked if the announcement would have any bearing on frontline officer numbers, the PMS replied that there were tough choices to be made. The Government had made its position clear regarding public services having to tighten their belts. We wanted to ensure that it was the back-office bureaucracy that was cut and not frontline services.
When asked what the Prime Minister’s view was of the picture portrayed by the leaked documents, the PMS referred people to the statement made by the White House in response to the leak of US military documents. The PMS added that we would lament all unauthorised release of classified materials.
Asked about the content of the leaked documents, the PMS said that the Government did not comment on leaked documents. On whether there would be an inquiry into instances involving British troops, the PMS said that we would not comment on leaked documents.
Asked what message the Prime Minister would be taking to India after suggestions that Pakistan intelligence services held allegiances with the Taliban, the PMS said the Government would continue to work with Pakistan to enhance its capacity to focus on and tackle the threats being faced and we would continue to urge Pakistan to do all it could to dismantle all militant and terrorist groups operating on or from Pakistani soil.
Asked if it was a matter of concern that Pakistan intelligence services seemed to be cooperating more with the Taliban than with Coalition forces, the PMS said the presence of militant and terrorist groups posed a grave threat to the Pakistani state as well as to the stability and security of the region and beyond. We would continue to work with Pakistan and urged them to do more.
Put that the last Government always maintained that two thirds of terrorist plots could be linked to the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan and did the Government stand by that position, the PMS said that we were aware of the threat from that area, but advised people to speak to MOD on any figures.
On whether there was concern over the Taliban’s capability to use ground-to-air missiles, the PMS said that she would not go into detail on those issues. We were well aware of what the Taliban threat was and the importance of the mission in Afghanistan, as well as the need to return security to the country as soon as possible.
Asked for a response on the SSRB recommendations, the PMS replied that the Government had made its position clear in the Coalition document where it had committed to consult with IPSA on how to move away from the MPs current final salary pension schemes.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought there were any signs of IPSA ‘getting a grip’, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had spoken on the issue at PMQs and it was now for IPSA to act on those words.
Prime Minister’s holiday
Put that it had been reported that the Prime Minister would be holidaying in Britain this year and would he encourage other politicians to do the same, the PMS said that it was a decision for individual Ministers to take.
Put that it had been suggested that the Government would now stand against granting anonymity for people accused of rape, the PMS advised people to speak to the Ministry of Justice.
Asked if the Prime Minister had full confidence in Crispin Blunt, the PMS said that he did.