Press briefing: morning 10 January 2014
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on the European referendum bill, free movement and WW1 commemorations.
European referendum bill
Asked whether the government would propose a bill in government time if the current private members’ bill that is before the House failed, the PMS said that he was not aware of any plans to do that.
Asked if the Prime Minister (PM) would be disappointed if the Bill didn’t pass through the Lords, the PMS said that the PM was a strong supporter of the Bill, he would continue to make the case for it and hoped that enough Peers speak in support of the bill so that it passes.
Asked whether the PM would consider using the Parliament Act if the bill did not make it through the Lords, the PMS said that the Bill was making its way through the House in the usual way.
Asked if the PM agreed with the proposal from the Shadow Business Secretary that European free movement rules should apply to workers not jobseekers, the PMS said that the PM has been very clear about the changes he wants to see to European rules. The PM has said that we want to attract the brightest and best to the UK, but also support young British people so they have the right skills and education so they can better compete in the labour market.
Asked whether the PM agreed that changes to the rule should apply to existing member states rather than just future member states, the PMS said that a range of issues were being considered for renegotiation and the PM’s comments on the Andrew Marr programme outlined his position.
Asked if the PM has a response to the comments from Vice President of the European Commission about immigration, the PMS said that welfare and migration rules are a topic on which many member states have concerns.
Asked for the PM’s response to PC Keith Wallis pleading guilty to misconduct in public office, the PMS said that there was a judicial process being followed and he had no comment to make.
Asked if Andrew Mitchell would return to the Cabinet the PMS said he did not comment on reshuffle speculation.
Cost of living
Asked if the PM thought that the sales slump in major supermarkets is the public sending a message about cost of living, the PMS said that it was for the public to decide where they did their shopping.
First World War (WW1) commemorations
Asked if the PM thought that the current plans for commemorations play sufficient respect to the Australian and New Zealand soldiers that lost their lives the PMS said that the idea that plans were not respecting the sacrifice made by any Commonwealth troops was completely wrong. The PMS said that April 2015 would see a major commemoration of the anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, and the government was working closely with the Australian and New Zealand governments on those plans.
Spare room subsidy
Asked whether reported problems with spare room subsidy showed that government benefits changes were in difficulty, the PMS said that the Department was working to resolve the issue.
Asked if the PM agreed with calls for a suspension of campaigning in the Scottish independence referendum campaign during the Commonwealth games, the PMS said that he wasn’t aware of any calls but that would be a matter for the yes and no campaigns.