Press briefing: afternoon 26 February
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on Northern Ireland, minimum wage, and Angela Merkel.
When asked if there would be a judicial review into the letters sent to Irish republican paramilitary suspects following comments from Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, the PMS said that the First Minister would be meeting with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland this evening to discuss his concerns. The PMS explained there was a 3 pronged process taking place to check the process behind sending out the letters, which included considering the ruling from yesterday, checking the facts relating to the letters which had been issued and the Police Service of Northern Ireland reviewing the case.
When asked if the PM and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland had been aware of the letters being sent, the PMS explained that 38 letters had been sent post May 2010, all of which related to requests received before May 2010. Since then responsibility for any future requests had passed to the Northern Irish Assembly, and the UK government had not received any other requests since those in 2010.
National Minimum Wage
When asked for the PM’s response to the Low Pay Commission’s (LPC) recommendation to increase the National Minimum Wage by 3% to £6.50, the PMS said the rise represented a real terms increase in the minimum wage. The LPC has signalled that this is part of a process to restore the level to a pre-recession value. The LPC submitted their recommendations today and the government will take time to consider them before making a final decision.
When asked if there were plans to increase public sector pay, the PMS explained that pay for the public sector was set at a 1 per cent until the end of the 2015 to 2016 financial year. Difficult decisions about tackling the deficit would continue to need to be made.
Angela Merkel visit
When asked for an update on what the PM and German Chancellor Angela Merkel would discuss around EU reform, the PMS said that the discussion would be on a wide range of EU reform related topics, including trade, the direction of the next European Commission and how powers can flow back to member states.