The Prime Minister's Official Spokesperson answered questions on devolution, banking, Palestine, television debates, NHS reform and immigration.
When asked about the status of the Scotland Command Paper published today, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson (PMOS) said it was a government paper which outlined the proposals of the 3 principal political parties.
On the timetable for these proposals, the PMOS highlighted 3 key dates, namely:
- the publishing of a command paper by the end of October 2014 linked to Lord Smith’s work
- cross-party agreement by 30 November on the proposals
- draft legislation published by the government by 25 January 2015
When asked who would lead the House of Commons debate on devolution, the PMOS said the government’s most senior representative on these matters – William Hague – would open and lead the debate.
With regard to the input of other political parties in the Command Paper, the PMOS said the government very much welcomed representations from other political parties which fed into the work of Lord Smith.
When asked about bankers being considered responsible for the 2008 financial crash, the PMOS said the Prime Minister attached great importance to significant reform of financial regulation, through placing the Bank of England at the heart of a new system of financial regulation, and through reforms which have introduced the potential for there to be criminal prosecutions for reckless behaviour.
When asked about the debate in the House of Commons regarding Palestinian statehood, the PMOS said the government’s long-standing position was very clear, in that it supported diplomatic efforts to achieve a successful and sustainable outcome based on a 2-state solution. Efforts which included working with a range of international partners – including Israel and the Palestinian Authority – in support of that goal. Further recent UK economic contributions to the Gaza strip at the Cairo Donor’s Conference was one such example of those continuing efforts.
When asked about the collective proposals put forward by UK broadcasters for TV debates at the general election, the PMOS said the Prime Minister’s views hadn’t changed.
When asked about the government’s reforms of the NHS, the PMOS said the government had the right approach which had generated net savings of a billion pounds a year across this parliament, including 19,000 fewer administrators in the NHS, and putting clinicians and clinical experts at the centre of decision-making.
When asked about EU reform in the context of immigration, the PMOS said the Prime Minister was seeking tougher transitional controls for future accessions to the EU, and pointed to the new government powers under the Immigration Act 2014. With regard to wider EU reform, the PMOS highlighted that net migration among non-European Economic Area (EEA) migrants was now at its lowest level for more than 20 years.