Press release

Press briefing: afternoon 16 July 2013

The Prime Minister's Spokesperson answered questions on Trident, Syria and health.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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Trident

Asked why the government does not bring the decision on Trident forward, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) said that there is a methodical procurement for Trident. He said that it is a very complex weapon system, which takes a long time to procure. The right thing to do is to have a methodical procurement approach.

The PMS explained that decisions taken around current fleet are taken because they are operationally sustainable decisions, linked to the service life of those vessels.

Syria

Asked whether the Prime Minister (PM) has ruled out arming the rebels, the PMS said that no decision has been taken to do so. Pushed on this issue, the PMS reiterated that no decision has been taken to do so and said that the government is supporting a political solution to bring the butchery and violence in Syria to an end. He talked about the importance of negotiations and said that the government is working with the international community.

Health

Asked whether the PM has been influenced by Lynton Crosby on cigarette packaging, the PMS said that Lynton Crosby does not provide advice to government, he does election strategy for the Conservative party.

Asked about health ministers’ meetings with tobacco companies, the PMS said that ministers’ meetings are published and referred the lobby to the Department of Health for detail on its meetings.

Asked about nursing numbers in the NHS, the PMS said that Professor Sir Bruce Keogh’s report makes the point that decisions around staffing are for directors in local organisations. The right staffing mix is up to local hospitals.

Asked why the government does not set a minimum staffing level, the PMS said that Prof Sir Bruce Keogh’s report notes that guidance is given on staffing levels. He also pointed to the hospital inspection regime and that the government is overhauling this inspection regime and moving from generalist to specialist inspectors.

Asked whether the PM is concerned about staffing levels, the PMS said that the government is concerned about ensuring the NHS continues to receive the sort of investment the government has given, which has led to investment in clinical staff, new technologies and more operations.

Published 19 July 2013