Press briefing: morning 26 March 2012
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on party funding, Afghanistan and airport strategy and the Al-Meghrahi inquiry.
Asked where the government stood on party funding, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) said that the government wanted to reform the process on a cross-party basis. This is a party issue, not confined to the government and it is best to have a consensus view on the way forward.
Asked why the meeting disclosure logs had not been published for some time, the PMS said that logs had been published and the government was committed to publishing more up to date meeting logs but had not set out a timetable for publications. The next set of data is expected to be published shortly.
Asked whether Chequers was considered a private residence or an official building for the purposes of disclosing meetings, the PMS said that if the PM held private engagements that was a matter from him but any costs would be met by the PM and not the taxpayer.
Asked whether the PM had entertained any Conservative Party donors at Chequers, the PMS referred the journalist to the Conservative Party HQ.
Asked to define a private meeting, the PMS said the PM was entitled to have a private life outside of official business, but in official meetings civil servants would often be present to note the proceedings. Meetings are published, in a transparent way, something which has never been done by previous governments.
Asked whether there had been policy papers submitted to the Number 10 Policy Unit from Conservative Party donors, the PMS said that government consulted a broad range of stakeholders when forming policy. It is up to ministers to make decisions on what it believes is the best course of action at that time. That is the normal way of business in government.
Asked whether the PM was prepared to go further on the transparency of his donor meetings given the level of public interest, the PMS said that the process had been set out and the government had committed to publishing details of the PM’s meetings on a regular basis.
Asked whether the meeting would be published if the PM or a Cabinet Minister meets a donor over dinner, the PMS said that if a minister receives hospitality it is noted and published.
Asked if the location of a meeting is immaterial and whether the PM held personal meetings in his official private office within Number 10, the PMS said that it would not be routine but is very possible.
Asked whether official business was carried out in the PM’s personal flat, the PMS said that it was possible but official meetings were usually held within the Number 10 offices.
Asked if the government had a stance on whether the civil service should hold an investigation on the policy making process, the PMS said that there were guidelines and codes in place. There is a well established way of making policy and there were no plans to look further into it.
Asked what the status of the report by Adrian Beecroft to government was, the PMS said it was a report to government and the publication was a matter for BIS.
Asked whether private dinners were considered a part of the consultation process, the PMS said that discussions would occur with key stakeholders throughout the policy making process and if legislation is proposed it would be debated on the floor of the House.
Asked who commissioned the Adrian Beecroft report, the PMS referred the journalist to BIS.
Asked whether the PM believed a Conservative Party inquiry would be sufficient and whether he would be prepared to open it to a more independent process, the PMS said that the PM would be answering questions on the issue shortly and Francis Maude would be giving a statement to the House later in the afternoon.
Asked whether the list of guests to Chequers was complete or whether there were private guests who would not be included on any list, the PMS said that there may be private guests which would be funded by the PM.
Asked whether the PM was aware of the deaths of servicemen in Afghanistan and whether there was a response, the PMS said that the government was aware of the incident and were looking further into what had happened.
Asked what the government’s stance on airport policy was, and whether there was a possibility of a third runway at Heathrow, the PMS said that the government was looking to publish both an aviation strategy and a call for evidence to maintain an effective UK hub in the south east. The Chancellor said in the Autumn Statement that the government would explore all options with the exception of a 3rd runway at Heathrow.
Asked whether the PM welcomed the full publication of the Scottish criminal cases review commission into Al Meghrahi and does he support the call for a full public inquiry, the PMS said it was a matter for the Prosecutor in Scotland.