Business Advisory Group
Asked who was attending the Business Advisory Group, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) read the list of attendees.
Asked whether the Prime Minister expects all his Ministers to vote for a change in tuition fees, the PMS said that it is Government policy and the usual approach is that Government Minister’s support Government policies. PMS added that Ministers are bound by collective responsibility. However we were in a coalition government and there were some issues outlined in the coalition document where the two parties agreed to differ.
Asked whether this extended to abstentions in line with the coalition agreement, the PMS said that there is provision in the coalition agreement on this and a number of other issues but it is worth noting that there has been a process following the receipt of Lord Browne’s report where the coalition has been working together in order to come to the right measures.
Asked whether the Prime Minister believed that the policy that will be set out is a good one, the PMS replied that clearly this is the case.
Asked what Andy Parsons would be taking photographs of today and what proportion of the time he would be working for the Prime Minister, the PMS said that Andy Parsons is a Cabinet Office employee and his role involves taking photographs of Cabinet Ministers.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had spoken to President Obama following the US mid-term elections, the PMS replied that he had not and added that this was a matter for the people of the United States.
Israeli ‘Strategic Dialogue’
Asked whether the Israeli decision to suspend the strategic dialogue over universal jurisdiction was seen as a rebuke given the Foreign Secretary was there, the PMS said that we are in discussions with Israel regarding dates for the next round of the strategic dialogue and we have a good relationship with the Israeli government.
The PMS added that the government is moving quickly to change the situation regarding universal jurisdiction so we don’t have a situation where a member of the Israeli government can be threatened with an arrest warrant if they come to the UK.
Asked whether the immigration cap was going to work, the PMS replied that it would work and the Government would set out its proposals soon. The PMS added that the Government was looking at options for a cap and looking at the immigration system more generally.
Asked if the Prime Minister was pleased about Lloyd’s Bank’s announcement that it had hired the head of Santander, the PMS said we welcome that appointment. The PMS added that it was worth noting the success that Santander had in increasing lending to small businesses in the UK and hopefully that success is something that can be replicated by Lloyds.
Put that the Prime Minister would be giving a speech tomorrow with the Mayor of London present and asked whether the two of them have spoken since the Mayor’s comments on housing benefit last week, the PMS said there had been no meeting.