Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: Structural Reform Plans, Trident and welfare reform.
Structural Reform Plans
Asked if there were more details of the Government Structural Reform Plan update, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said these are the plans which each government department had published, setting out their key priorities and their milestones. When the plans were announced the government committed to publishing monthly update reports and the first of these would be published today.
Asked if they would be published at the same day every month, the PMS said, the plan would be for them to come out towards the end of each month.
Asked if there had been any research done on any possible impact to Britain’s Armed Forces if Trident was paid out of the Defence Budget, the PMS said the key thing was that the government was committed to a nuclear deterrent. The Strategic Defence Review (SDSR) was on going, as was the Spending Review and departmental spending will be considered in the round as part of this.
Asked if Trident should come out of the MoD Budget or the Treasury Budget, the PMS said that these were decisions for the Treasury as part of the Spending Review.
Asked if it was a decision that had to be taken from the very top, the PMS said the government is committed to the nuclear deterrent. The SDSR was on going, so too is the Spending Review.
Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with the Chancellor that the cost of replacing Trident should be part of the Ministry of Defence budget, the PMS said we are committed to the nuclear deterrent and all decisions regarding departmental spending plans were to be considered by the Chancellor and it was the Chancellor’s decision.
Asked if the Prime Minister was alarmed by two of his most senior Cabinet colleagues negotiating/arguing about this in public, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had already said he would not get into discussions between the Chancellor and Cabinet Ministers regarding the Spending Review.
Put that the Home Secretary thought that Trident should be a priority for MoD spending and did the Prime Minister agree, the PMS said the decisions would be made in the Spending Review.
Asked if the Prime Minister had accepted Iain Duncan Smith’s view that marginal pension rates had been made worse in the Budget, the PMS said the Work and Pensions Secretary had been very clear both in his speech and the media interviews this morning that our welfare system needed fundamental reform.
Asked for the Prime Minister’s view on the possibility of the programme costing more money, the PMS referred to comments of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions that over the last 10 years we had spent £60 billion more on the benefits system which is unsustainable. We need to get people out of the poverty trap, stuck on benefits, and in to work, which would benefit the economy.