Press briefing: afternoon 17 July 2013
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister's Spokesperson answered questions on lobbying, the Cabinet, MPs' pay and minimum pricing.
Asked about Grant Shapps’ statement that the Prime Minister (PM) has never had any conversations with Lynton Crosby, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) pointed the lobby to the PM’s words in the House.
Pushed on whether the PM believes consultants should publish their clients, the PMS said that the PM has said that Lynton Crosby has never lobbied him on anything.
About the government’s announcement on lobbying, the PMS said that the government is introducing a statutory register of lobbyists where lobbyists will have to register their clients. The PM thinks that this is the right piece of legislation.
Asked whether the PM is relaxed about lobbying from big firms such as Philip Morris or Google, given that they do not need to sign up to the plans, the PMS said that external meetings are already published and this is about lobbyists having to list their clients.
Asked whether the PM expects Lynton Crosby to be on register after these plans, the PMS said that if someone is a lobbying business lobbying the UK government, if this legislation is passed, they will have to put their clients on the register.
Asked about whether it would extend beyond ministers and permanent secretaries, the PMS confirmed it will be with ministers and permanent secretaries. Pushed on whether there is a loophole, the PMS said that it will be a requirement for lobbyists who are lobbying ministers or permanent secretaries to list their clients. The policy will apply to ministers, who take policy decisions.
Jeremy Heywood was written to Jon Trickett on this issue, the PMS said that this is a matter for the Cabinet Office and they will be replying to it.
Asked why the PM used a military helicopter rather than taking a train on his visit the day before, the PMS said that the PM travels in a range of different means depending on the event or engagement he is going to. The PMS said that the PM will use the most appropriate form of transport for his travel.
Pushed on whether the PM should use public transport, the PMS said that everything the government does should be as cost effective as possible and that the government publishes the cost of ministerial travel in the usual way.
Asked why Cabinet would be held at Chequers, the PMS said that on occasion the Cabinet meets away from London and this is one of those occasions.
Asked whether the PM thinks MPs would like to be put on a day rate, like the Lords, the PMS said that MPs’ pay is a matter for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).
Asked whether the PM is sad to see that minimum pricing will not go ahead, the PMS said that the government is banning sales of alcohol below the level of alcohol duty plus VAT, taking action to deal with the problems that have been seen with very cheap alcohol promotion.
Asked why the PM has dropped the plans, the PMS said that one of the things the PM has pointed to is that there is currently insufficient evidence and there are legal uncertainties, as it is currently subject to legal challenge in Scotland.