Scotland, privately-funded yacht for the Queen and welfare were the topics discussed at the daily 10 Downing Street press briefing.
Asked whether Downing Street had been in discussion with other government departments about a privately funded yacht for the Queen, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that he had nothing to update journalists on this issue. Asked whether the Prime Minister had received a letter from David Willetts and / or Michael Gove on the issue, he said that it was clear that some people had talked about the proposal of a privately-financed yacht for the Queen. He added that if anyone wished to discuss any of their proposals then the Prime Minister would be happy to hear them. He said that no public money would be spent on a yacht.
Asked whether Downing Street had spoken to Buckingham Palace about the Government facilitating the purchase of a yacht, the PMOS reminded journalists that we did not give details of our discussions with the Palace. He said that if the Government could support the process in some way, but not through public funds, then we would be open-minded about that. Asked if the Prime Minister had received a letter on the issue, he said that he would not go into detail of the Prime Minister’s correspondence. Asked again for the Prime Minister’s view, he repeated that he would be happy to discuss any proposals.
The PMOS was asked whether any public money might be spent on the running and security costs of a yacht, to which he replied that journalists were getting ahead of themselves; these were proposals. Asked whether a yacht had ever been discussed at Cabinet, he said not at one which he had attended. Asked whether there had been any discussions with private financiers, he said that there were a number of proposals around, but he would not be getting into a lot of detail or speculating about what might happen.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had written to Rear Admiral Bawtree, the PMOS said that he had already set out the Government position and would not get into further detail about the process or correspondence. Asked why the PMOS wouldn’t comment given that this was a suggestion from a Cabinet member, he said that the Government would react favourably to the issue, but that it was not a Government proposal. He said again that if there was something that Government could do to support the idea then we would look at it.
Asked whether a yacht would be sponsored by the financiers, he said that it was not a Government proposal so journalists should not expect the Government to be able to answer detailed questions about it. Asked whether the Government would object to non-domiciles funding the Yacht, he repeated that it was not a Government proposal.
Asked whether the Diamond Jubilee would be over-shadowed by the Olympics, the PMOS said that both events were a great opportunity for the country to celebrate a very special and important year. Asked about plans for any Jubilee legacy, he said that Department for Culture, Media and Sport were leading government efforts on that process, in liaison with the Palace.
Asked whether what the Advocate General was saying was at odds with the Prime Minister’s view on Scotland, the PMOS replied that it was not - it was exactly in line with what we had published the previous Tuesday. Asked whether the Prime Minister would agree that the issue of legality cannot be used as a negotiating position, he said that this issue needed to be clarified, which was why the Government was consulting on a referendum.
Asked whether to expect any other changes to the Welfare Bill, the PMOS said that there had been some small changes and that we were listening to people’s views. He said that we had set out proposals and would be taking them through Parliament.