The Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) answered questions on Leveson, flooding, the NHS, National Security Council, the Work Programme, Cabinet and growth implementation.
The PMS gave a brief summary of what was discussed at Cabinet. Departments were challenged on progress so far on structural reforms and growth implementation. There was also an update on floods from Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. The Prime Minister will visit flood hit areas today.
When questioned on which departments were challenged during Cabinet, the PMS made clear these issues relate to all departments. The Prime Minister had said that he wants to see every department prioritising growth. The PMS said there were some areas where things were progressing well and others where the Government was doing new things that take a bit longer. The purpose of these discussions was to hold departments to account and keep up the pressure.
When asked if Heathrow expansion was discussed as part of the growth agenda, the PMS said that it hadn’t and referred people to the ongoing commission, led by Howard Davies, which is actively looking at this issue.
When questioned about the growth forecast, the PMS referred to the upcoming autumn statement next week.
Responding to a question about whether there will be a vote on the Leveson report on Monday, the PMS said there would be a debate. He also confirmed that some members of the Government would get an advanced copy of the report.
The PMS confirmed that discussions with the insurance industry were ongoing.
When asked if the PM was concerned about the adequacy of flood defences, the PMS said a lot had been done to improve flood defences since 2007. He said the Government was investing considerable amounts over the next few years to ensure homes were protected properly. When challenged on funding for flood defences, the PMS re-emphasised that the Government was investing £2.17bn over four years on flood defences.
When asked if illegal immigrants should get access to NHS care, the PMS said that people were entitled to certain access to GPs, but there had been no change in approach since 1948. He said that the NHS had clarified the guidance so all GPs were approaching the issue in the same way.
When challenged on the Work Programme (WP) statistics released this morning, the PMS said it was important to recognise that this was only the first phase of the programme. He said the WP was proving successful in getting people off benefits.
When challenged whether the WP was actually getting people into work, the PMS cautioned against evaluating the scheme part way through. He made clear that the Government was now measuring something it had never measured before - how long people stay in a job. He reiterated that the Government would only pay providers if a person was found a real and sustainable job.
When asked if people were just getting recycled through the system, the PMS said it was a complicated picture and it could take some time for people who had been out of work for a long time to get a sustainable job.
National Security Council (NSC)
The PMS confirmed a meeting of the NSC took place this morning. He did not comment on details as per standard practice.