The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on the economy, the Falklands and pensions.
Economy and spending
Asked whether the PM would increase police spending in the Spending Review for 2015/16, the PMS said that the Spending Review process was underway but decisions had yet to be made. Asked whether the PM had full confidence in the Chancellor, the PMS said that the PM did. Asked if the PM had confidence in the Chancellor’s economic plans considering the performance of the economy and whether we had something to learn from Liberia’s good economic performance, the PMS reminded journalists that one of the biggest impacts on the UK economy was the crisis in the Eurozone and we want to see a conclusion to that crisis; also the government inherited a record deficit, it had a plan to deal with the record deficit, and it would stick to that plan.
Asked whether the PM was disappointed that the Argentine Foreign Minister had pulled out of talks with the Foreign Secretary and the Falkland Islands, the PMS said that the PM was disappointed. The UK was not prepared to talk over the heads of the Falkland Islands on issues that directly impact them. The Falkland Islands had a right to self determination. The Foreign Secretary was still happy to meet with the Argentines if they changed their mind.
Asked for the PM’s view on Lord Lawson’s comments on RBS bonuses, the PMS said that she would not comment on speculation about bonuses, but our long-standing position on bonuses was that organisations should show restraint and they should reflect and reward good performance. Asked if the PM welcomed the fact named individuals had declined to accept their bonuses, the PMS said that it was a matter for individuals.
Asked if the PM will be speaking to colleagues ahead of Tuesday’s vote, the PMS reminded journalists that while the PM supported the bill and would be encouraging others, it was a free vote.
Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)
Asked whether the PM had any concerns over the IPCC’s resources, the PMS said that the government was making sweeping reforms to the police force, and the IPCC had a key role to play.The Home Office were working to ensure the organisation had the powers and resources it needed to manage the challenges it was facing and would shortly announce a package of new measures designed to further improve the public’s trust in the police.
Asked if pensioners’ benefits had not been protected like other areas in the Spending Review, the PMS referred journalists to the Treasury who were leading on the Spending Review process. Asked specifically if the PM was committed to protecting the benefits of pensioners, the PMS said that the government was doing a lot to help pensioners. Asked if the pledge the PM had made did not extend beyond the general election, the PMS said the PM stood by the commitments made to pensioners as set out in the Coalition Agreement and that was for the entirity of this parliament. Decisions beyond this parliament have yet to be made.
Asked whether the PM was content with the tone of the debate around the free movement of people in the EU and specifically about the Bulgarians and Romanians, the PMS said our position was that we welcomed the brightest and best if it contributed to our economy, but we did not support abuses of the freedom of movement of people when it is abused and puts pressure on our welfare system. The PM was clear on the positive benefits of immigration and work was underway looking at options to limit abuse. The issues of abuse of the freedom of movement had been raised at numerous meetings of the Council of Europe and government departments were looking at options to limit the abuse.