The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on the Cabinet meeting, Boston, Lady Thatcher's funeral and the London marathon.
As is usual in Tuesday morning’s session, the PMS gave journalists a brief run down of what was discussed at Cabinet that morning. He was asked what the Chancellor had said about inflation, to which he replied that it was as the Chancellor had set out in the Budget. He said in response to a follow-up question about inflation targets, that forecasting was a matter for the independent Office for Budget Responsibility. He confirmed that the Chancellor had mentioned the International Monetary Fund report in the context of the forthcoming Bretton Woods institutions meetings that he would be attending.
Asked what Jeremy Hunt had said about growth in the Department for Health (DH), the PMS said that every department had a role to play in growth and that DH would continue to work across Whitehall with departments such as the Department for Work & Pensions on supporting participation in the workforce. He also made the point that there are a number of leading health firms in the UK that we would wish to support in taking advantage of the $6 trillion global health sector.
Asked for Jonathan Evans’ assessment of his time in MI5 at his final Cabinet meeting, the PMS declined to update journalists on those security discussions.
Asked whether there would be any security changes to Lady Thatcher’s funeral or the London Marathon in light of the explosions in Boston, the PMS said that security arrangements for major public events were always kept under review. He said that the Prime Minister thought that the scenes from Boston were shocking and horrific and that his thoughts were with all those who had been affected.
Asked whether the Prime Minister was disappointed with the American delegation coming to Lady Thatcher’s funeral, or whether it was a snub that no former presidents would attend, the PMS said absolutely not and that the seniority of the America dignitaries attending was reflective of her global stature. He welcomed the fact that two former Secretaries of State with whom Lady Thatcher had worked very closely with were attending, saying it was testimony to the esteem in which she was held. The PMS was asked to explain the rationale for the Argentinean Ambassador declining to attend, to which he replied that was a matter for the Argentineans.
Asked whether the Prime Minister would attend the chapel service this evening, the PMS said he was not aware of plans to do so. And on whether PMQs would definitely be cancelled, he said that the government had agreed the procedure through the usual cross-party channels and he expected there to be a short debate and a vote in the House this evening. Asked whether police wages would be included in the overall cost of the funeral, he said that the costs would be set out after the event. And he pointed out that a number of the personnel involved would already be on duty on that day.
Asked whether the Prime Minister was worried that some of his MPs might vote against government proposals, the PMS said that the government would continue to focus on making the case for them. He confirmed that councils already have the flexibility to remove permitted development rights.