President Hollande's visit, Lords reform and benefits for pensioners were discussed at this press briefing.
Asked if the EU budget was discussed during the Prime Minister’s (PM) bilateral meeting with President Hollande, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) told the assembled media that the PM had addressed this question during his press conference - there had been discussions about the forthcoming negotiations on the budget.
Asked if the French President still supported a real term freeze, the PMS replied that France’s position was a matter for the French Government, but there were further discussions to be had. The Commission’s proposal was already in the public domain and there was agreement that this was unacceptable. A process was in place where the proposal would be negotiated until the end of the year. That negotiation would involve another 25 countries, not just the UK and France.
On the matter of holiday homes, the PMS said that the PM was reassured that there would be no discrimination against British citizens who own property in France.
Asked about details of the programme motion, the PMS said that the PM had answered this question at his press conference. Sir George Young would be opening the debate for the Government shortly and would be setting out the Government’s position.
Asked what the PM’s message to his back benchers was, the PMS said that he did not wish to pre-empt Sir George Young, but there was a significant majority in favour of reforming the House of Lords and the Government wanted to proceed with consensus.
Asked if further conversations had taken place with Ed Miliband, the PMS said to his knowledge they had not.
On the matter of a possible referendum, the PMS said the Government had already set out its position on that issue.
Asked if universal benefits for pensioners should be dropped, as suggested by a Conservative MP, the PMS replied that the PM had made a speech on welfare reform only a couple of weeks ago and had been very clear on his position on benefits for pensioners.