Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: energy, welfare food scheme and misc.
Asked what the wisdom was behind not giving grants to nuclear power stations and giving grants to things like wind farms, the Prime Minister’s Spokeswoman (PMS) said that the Energy Secretary had made his views clear on this; nuclear was a well-established technology and it was important that we gave some funding to newer forms of energy.
The PMS also referred the reporter to some of the statements from energy companies who were investing in nuclear and were confident that new power stations of various types would be coming on stream to meet demands towards 2018.
Welfare Food Scheme
Asked what happened over the weekend in regards to confusion over free milk for children under five, the PMS said that every government department was looking at various ways of saving money and this particular scheme was one of those that was looked at. The Prime Minister had made his views about this scheme clear.
Asked if No 10 looked at the proposal, the PMS said that she would not get into process; Ministers across departments were looking at various projects, large and small, but that didn’t necessarily mean they came across the desk of the Prime Minister.
Asked if the Prime Minister had asked to see more documents as a result of what happened at the weekend, the PMS said that as departments were looking at ways of saving money there would be some difficult decisions to take, but that was all part of the ongoing discussions around the spending review.
Asked how the Prime Minister was able to make this kind of decision in the way he did, the PMS said that the Prime Minister did not want to cut this particular scheme; this policy had been in place since WWII and been an integral part of early schooling since that time.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought there was an argument for this scheme to be means tested, the PMS said that the decision had been made on this particular policy.
Put that evidence didn’t necessarily prove that giving milk to under fives had any health benefits, the PMS said that more broadly it was important to look at the impact on poorer and more vulnerable members of society, which was one of the presiding principles of the government. In this instance the Prime Minister felt that keeping milk for under fives was an important part of that.
Asked if there was a list of other things the Prime Minister had ruled out, the PMS said that there were a vast number of different initiatives and areas of government spending that were being looked at as part of the spending review. People should wait for the spending review when the government’s programme on spending would be set out.
Asked if the Prime Minister shared the view that graduates should pay more for certain degrees, the PMS said that there was an ongoing review by Lord Browne into higher education and we would wait to see his recommendations.
Asked if the Prime Minister believed that local authorities should be able to suspend the right to buy council housing, the PMS said that the Prime Minister made his views about council housing clear last week in that we needed to ensure that people who were in need were helped. There was a review ongoing and we were awaiting the outcome.