Press release

Number 10 Press Briefing - Morning From 4 February 2011

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

From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: Ministerial Interests, fuel prices, Egypt, economy and Big Society.

Ministerial Interests

Asked if the list was the first to come under the present Government, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that it was. The PMS said that several Ministers had been appointed at a later date, but we now had a consolidated list to publish.

Fuel Prices

Asked for the Government’s views on what OPEC had been saying on fuel prices in the UK, the PMS replied that if oil prices went up, it had an impact on the price of petrol at the pump.

Put that their argument was that the Government was making more money than the producers through tax, the PMS said that we had a significant structural deficit that we needed to deal with and that’s why we were going ahead with certain tax rises. The Prime Minister had asked the Treasury to look at the issue of a fair fuel stabiliser, but any announcement on tax would come at the time of the Budget.

The PMS said that an increase in the oil price did have an impact on petrol prices. If people looked at recent rises in petrol prices, the majority of the increase was accountable by non-tax factors such as increases in the price of oil.

Egypt

Put that Alastair Burt had contacted Vodafone over the use of the network by the Egyptian Government and had the Government intervened in the cases of any other companies, the PMS said that there had been many contacts between the UK Government and the Egyptian Government. In regard to the Vodafone case, if any messages were being sent, they were the responsibility of the sender rather than the company.

Economy

Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with the comments made by the Deputy Prime Minister that people on higher rates of tax would not notice any increases, the PMS replied that there had been an increase in the personal allowance at the time of the last Budget. There had also been a balancing reduction in the higher rate threshold which meant that people at the higher rate would not benefit from the increase in the personal allowance. So this was an offsetting measure.

Put that the Deputy Prime Minister had suggested that that would continue, the PMS said that the Coalition Agreement had set out that it was the Government’s policy to prioritise increases in the personal allowance above other personal tax cuts. Put that the Coalition Agreement did not set out how those measures would be funded, the PMS said that those decisions would be taken in future Budgets.

Put that the Deputy Prime Minister seemed to suggest that to pay for lower income tax cuts, there would be further ‘squeezes’ on higher earners, the PMS said that the Deputy Prime Minister was making the point that we had this priority, but equally, we had the priority of bringing down the deficit, so we would have to look at future Budget decisions in that context.

Big Society

Asked if the Prime Minister was disappointed that Liverpool had pulled out of the Vanguard scheme, the PMS replied that we were currently talking to the people involved in running the project. The project was not run by the council and some of the other Vanguard projects did not have any council involvement. All of the Vanguard projects had come about because people had come to the Government and suggested that these schemes should go ahead. So these were not central Government initiatives.

The PMS added that what the Government had agreed to do was to look at where there might be barriers and problems that impeded these local initiatives. Asked if Liverpool Council were in a position to pull out, the PMS said that it would be wrong to think that this was a Government initiative that the council had pulled out of. This was a local initiative that the Government had offered to support.