Afghan Civilian Casualties
Asked whether the Prime Minister agreed with Paul Flynn MP’s comments that British troops had committed atrocities in Afghanistan by causing civilian casualties, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that we deeply regretted all civilian casualties. Protecting the Afghan civilian population was a cornerstone of the Afghan mission, and all British troops underwent comprehensive training on the strict rules of engagement. The PMS also pointed out that this contrasted with the attitude of insurgents whose indiscriminate use of suicide bombs, roadside bombs and human shields caused the majority of deaths in Afghanistan.
Asked whether the government was announcing changes to the housing benefit cap, the PMS said no; we had set out proposals on the housing benefit reform and our intention was to implement those proposals. There would be a White Paper followed by a Bill, and there would be debate in Parliament about these issues; this was the government’s policy and we intended to push ahead with it.
Asked whether the Prime Minister was going to meet with MPs to discuss this issue, the PMS said that Prime Minister met MPs regularly to discuss a range of issues.
Asked whether the Prime Minister was concerned that Conservative MPs were worried and that this was not just a Labour back-bench issue, the PMS said that most people accepted the fact that £21,000 a year for rent was a significant sum, and it was an area we had to look at for savings.
Put that the Prime Minister didn’t accept that there were anomalies in London where the rents were to high, the PMS said that we had set out the policy and it was our intention to implement it.
Afghanistan Quarterly Report
Asked what the purpose of the Afghanistan quarterly report was, the PMS replied that it was an update allowing us to explain our strategy to the public and inform Parliament of progress on this extremely important issue.