The Prime Minister's Spokesperson answered questions on the PM's economic speech, tax credits, peerages and appointments and Downing Street.
Prime Minister’s economic speech
The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) informed journalists of the details of the Prime Minister’s first major speech. He said that the Prime Minister would talk about the first priority for the government of transforming the economy and would set out the coalition strategy for economic growth to turn the economy around.
Asked about the themes of the speech, the PMS confirmed that it would be a broad speech about the economy, talking about actions to cut the deficit as the first priority, but then details of what the government could do in order to support economic growth, such as liberation of markets, deregulation, international action and action to rebalance the economy.
Asked whether the Prime Minister would announce any new changes to the strategy, the PMS referred journalists to the Chancellor’s speech on the economy the week before for details of the government’s economic strategy.
Asked for the Prime Minister’s views on HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) error on tax credits, the PMS said that HMRC would be investigating what happened, and that they did not believe there were any risks of identity theft resulting from the mistake. The PMS also highlighted that it was the commitment in the coalition agreement to reform the administration of tax credits as the system had been subject to considerable fraud, error and overpayments in the past.
Peerages and government appointments
Asked when any new peerages would be announced, the PMS said that announcements would be made soon, but not today.
Asked whether all ministerial appointments had now been made, the PMS confirmed that two ministerial appointments to the Ministry of Defence had been made the day before.
Prime Minister’s move to Downing Street
Asked what the limit was for the costs of refurbishing the flats at 10 Downing Street, the PMS said that there was a maintenance budget and that details were published when asked through Parliamentary Questions.
Put that the answers would refer to previous financial years, and asked how much was available for the current refurbishment, the PMS said that advance budgetary information for Downing Street was not set out; each government department had a budget set for this year and that level of detail on departmental budgets was not set out in advance.
Asked when the budget was set, the PMS said it would have been when overall departmental budgets were set, with Downing Street’s budget forming part of the Cabinet Office budget.
Asked whether this would have been as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, the PMS confirmed that it would have been.
Asked how the planned £6.2 billion cuts in government spending would affect the renovation budget, the PMS said that the Cabinet Office would set out details of precisely where reductions would be made.
Asked when the Prime Minister and his family would move into Downing Street, the PMS said that there were removal vans in the street as he left for the briefing.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had placed a bet on Fantastic Sam, the PMS said he had not asked.