Press release

Press briefing: afternoon 17 December 2013

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

The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on airports, Lord Hanningfield, Syria and Boris Johnson.

Airports

Asked to comment on London Mayor Boris Johnson’s view that we should speed up our decision on airport capacity, the PMS pointed media to the Transport Secretary’s comments in the House earlier. Asked to respond to the comments that handing over the airports issue to a commission was “not good enough”, the PMS said the commission was looking into the issues and it should complete its work. Asked if the government thought delaying this issue harmed business, the PMS directed media to the interim report’s points on capacity. He added it was an important decision which is why we had the commission. Asked if any other significant decisions like this had been handed over to a commission to consider, the PMS said the point of the commission was to explore the options and make its recommendations. He added the position of the government had not changed since the commission was established. Asked if the Liberal Democrat’s position of being “sceptical” about a third runway at Heathrow was the government’s position, the PMS said the government’s position was set out in the Coalition Agreement and there had been no change.

Lord Hanningfield

Asked to comment on the Lord Hanningfield case, the PMS said the PM shared the views Lord Hill had expressed in the House earlier. He added the PM was dismayed to read about the reports in the press earlier and the view shared by all group leaders in the Lords is to amend the code of conduct to give more discretion to take action against those who brought the House into disrepute. Asked what was going to change in the code of conduct, the PMS said there would need to be discussion among cross-party groups looking at the existing code of conduct and it was right for that code to be amended around discretion to take action. Asked how, if people are simply following the rules, it brings the House into disrepute, the PMS said there was widely held dismay over allegations in earlier media reports. Asked if the government needed to change the rules around the attendance allowance, the PMS said it was important the House came together to look into this.

Syria

Asked if the PM was concerned about reports into the death of Abbas Khan, the PMS said the government had made clear its concerns and the PM shared them.

Boris Johnson

Asked if the PM had a view on news that after Boris Johnson steps down as London Mayor in 2016 it will be “his last big job in public affairs”, the PMS said he would let the Mayor of London speak for himself.