Questioned on John Major’s speech on an EU referendum and the need to start negotiations the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that the FCO is leading a balance of competencies review.
Financial Transaction Tax
Asked for a response on a potential European Financial Transaction Tax the PMS said that our position was unchanged. We are not opposed to a Financial Transaction Tax in principle but we are clear it would need to be done at a global level.
Asked if the government would see FSA test results before they were made public the PMS confirmed this was likely.
Opposition 10p tax proposal
The PMS directed questions about the PM’s words in PMQs providing inspiration for the Opposition Leader’s speech on a 10p tax rate to the Opposition. He reiterated that tax is a matter for the Chancellor.
Immigration from Romania and Bulgaria
The PMS confirmed that government does not hold a forecast for the number of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants expected to enter the country but that it has commissioned NIESR to look at the impact of the two countries entering full freedom of movement status which will be published in due course. He explained that it can be difficult to make robust, credible forecasts, highlighting the example of forecasts made in 2004 which were very wide of mark. He also referenced the Prime Minister’s recent words that it is only useful to make forecasts if they are credible. Asked to comment on whether the NIESR report would use a spectrum of estimates the PMS said that we would not pre-empt the NIESR report but reiterated that they were asked to look the impact, not make a forecast.