Press briefing: morning 16 December 2014
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister's Official Spokesperson answered questions on English laws, the Pakistani attack, Russia, equal pay, and mobile 'not spots'
English votes for English laws
When asked about proposals for English votes for English laws, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson (PMOS) said work had been focused on the House of Commons, as the central issues were around the West Lothian question, which applied to Members of Parliament.
When asked about the terror attack on a school in Pakistan, the PMOS said the Prime Minister had expressed his shock and also his condolences to the families of the victims of the barbaric attack.
European Council meeting
When asked about the European Council meeting later this week, the PMOS said the council would discuss a number of issues, including the investment package put forward by Jean-Claude Juncker; security issues; the economy and the Ukraine.
When asked about the Russian economy, the PMOS said the fall in oil prices had been a global phenomenon. It was not unreasonable to say that Russia has made itself more vulnerable to the economic shocks that major oil producers face as a result of oil price fluctuations, as well as the isolation it has faced through sanctions due to events in Ukraine. He added that actions against Russia are always kept under review but the government had been clear that if Russia continued not to chose to take the path of de-escalation in the Ukraine, it would continue to face the consequences. These have been primarily sanctions with an economic focus and that does expose vulnerabilities when other economic shocks come along.
When asked about equal pay, the PMOS said the government has taken action in this area, including making firms who break the law undertake and publish equal pay audits. He added female employment was at record levels and the gender pay gap in the area of full time jobs for those under 40 had been virtually eliminated.
Mobile ‘not spots’
When asked about mobile phone ‘not spots’, the PMOS said the Department of Culture, Media and Sport had published a consultation on this several weeks ago. The government wanted to reach a voluntary agreement with the mobile phone sector on addressing the issue of partial ‘not spots’ but if that was not possible it would mandate action through the law. There has since been a renewed focus from that sector and discussions are ongoing.