The economy, manufacturing, Lords Reform, constituency boundaries and the greenbelt were discussed at this press briefing.
Asked about speculation of a Cabinet reshuffle, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that he would not comment on speculation.
Economy and manufacturing figures
Asked about the latest manufacturing figures, the PMOS said that, whilst he would not comment on every specific set of figures released, as the Chancellor had said in his interview yesterday, the country faced a challenging economic environment and that there was work to do to rebalance the economy. Since the last election, significant numbers of new private sector jobs had been created and the deficit had been cut by a quarter.
Asked why reform of the House of Lords did not proceed, the PMOS said that it required consensus to move forward with a Bill and that consensus was not forthcoming.
Asked about whether it was still the Prime Minister’s (PM’s) intention to press ahead with reform of constituency boundaries, the PMOS said that the Boundaries Commission was due to report next year and after that, there would be a vote in Parliament, required by the Act. The PM’s view remained that there should be a reduction in the number of constituencies and a move to more equal size constituencies. Asked about the cost of the Boundaries Commission carrying out its work over a long period, the PMOS said that fewer MPs and fewer parliamentary constituencies would save money.
Asked whether the PM agreed with the Chancellor’s views on the greenbelt, the PMOS said that the Chancellor was explaining the current system. Councils should look within existing rules to see whether they could do more to support development and growth. The government recently set out its position in the National Policy Planning Framework and the Chancellor was not proposing changes to that. He was setting out flexibilities within existing rules, and ways in which we could speed up the current process.
Asked about a letter concerning Grant Shapps’ business interests sent to the Permanent Secretary at DCLG, the PMOS said that it was for the Permanent Secretary at that department to respond, and confirmed that the Prime Minister retained full confidence in Grant Shapps.