Press release

Press briefing: morning 17 March 2014

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on Ukraine, the EU, HS2, 40 pence tax rate and the NHS.

Ukraine

Asked about the impact that Russian sanctions could have on the UK, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) said that the Prime Minister was determined that the international community respond to infringements on Ukrainian sovereignty. He said that the Foreign Secretary was confident that the EU Council meeting would agree an appropriate response including travel bans and assets freezes. He said detailed work had gone into preparing for possible sanctions, with the aim of sending a clear message to the Russian authorities that there were consequences for its actions.

EU

Asked about EU renegotiation and whether all 7 of the Prime Minister’s priorities for treaty change were equally weighted, the PMS said the 7 proposals were all important areas where he was seeking to change Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

HS2

Asked about Sir David Higgins’ report on HS2 and whether the Prime Minister wanted to see an accelerated timetable for the hybrid bill, the PMS said that the Prime Minister wanted to make progress as early as possible, but it was a lengthy bill and important to get it right. Additionally the aim of the report of Lord Deighton, to be set out on Friday, was to encourage work with stakeholders to maximise growth in northern cities.

40 pence tax

Asked about 40 pence tax rate, the PMS said that the Treasury had responded to the reports the question referred to.

NHS

Asked about NHS managers being rehired following redundancies, the PMS said that government reforms to cap pay-outs and claw back payments if an individual returns to work within a year of being made redundant were underway. Since 2010 there were 21,000 fewer administrative posts in the NHS.