Press release

Press briefing: morning 18 July 2013

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

The Prime Minister's Spokesperson answered questions on the Culture Secretary's letter to the BBC, Cabinet, Syria and hospital inspections.

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Culture Secretary letter

Asked whether the Prime Minister (PM) backs Culture Secretary Maria Miller’s position on the BBC and her stance on golf, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) said that the PM supports the Culture Secretary on both issues.

Asked whether the PM would attend the Open, the PMS said he is not going but he entirely understands why Maria Miller is not attending.

Asked whether the PM was aware that she was sending that letter, the PMS said that they regularly discuss all aspects of her remit.

Pushed on whether the PM supports the Culture Secretary intervening, the PMS reiterated that the PM shares Maria Miller’s view.

Asked whether the PM has ever been a member of an all-male club, such as the Whites club, the PMS said he did not know.

Asked whether he thinks more broadly that all male clubs have a place in modern Britain, the PMS said that the PM has a great deal of sympathy with the view that exclusive memberships of this sort look more to the past than to the future.

Asked what the PM would say to Cabinet colleagues who are still members of such clubs and whether he would encourage them to quit, the PMS said that the PM shares Maria Miller’s view.

Asked whether the PM thinks a legislative solution is needed, the PMS said he is not aware of plans for any kind of legislative action.

Cabinet

Asked why Cabinet is meeting at Chequers, the PMS explained that from time-to-time the Cabinet meets away from London and that this is one of these occasions.

Syria

Asked whether the PM shares the view of General Richards that the UK would have to act if the Assad regime fell into chaos, the PMS said that the PM has been consistent on Syria. As the PM said recently, there is no military victory to be won and all of the government’s efforts need to be focused on a political solution.

Pushed on General Richards’ view, the PMS said that the PM shares his view that this is a complex situation and the government will continue to work towards a political solution.

Asked whether a political solution would be more likely or less likely by supplying arms to opposition, the PMS said that, at the moment, we have made no decision on arms and the government continues to work toward a political solution.

Asked whether Lynton Crosby works for Syrian rebels, the PMS said he did not know.

Asked for clarity on the government’s objectives, the PMS said that the PM has always been clear that by a political solution we mean a position where we have a stable democratic Syria with an end to the humanitarian crisis. Asked whether this should include President Assad, the PMS said that the PM has always been clear that would not be the case.

Monsanto

Asked whether the PM is disappointed by Monsanto’s decision to pull out of Europe, the PMS said that the government wants a Europe that allows businesses to flourish, creating jobs and opportunities. GM offers real opportunities to develop crops that provide better resilience to extremes of weather for people in developing countries, and for farmers here. While the rest of the world is ploughing ahead and reaping the benefits of new technologies, Europe risks being left behind. We cannot afford to let that happen.

Hospital inspections

Asked what the PM thinks of patients being recruited as inspectors, the PMS said that there can be no question that, in the past, the hospital inspection system was failing patients and, following the publication of Sir Bruce Keogh’ report, the government fully supports the CQC in a more comprehensive and detailed inspections process.

The PMS said that patients can bring the views and experiences from people who are benefitting from the care, as well as those who have not benefitted, so that we can drive up standards up and down the country.

Hot weather

Asked whether the PM is satisfied that transport services and the health service are coping with the hot weather, the PMS confirmed that the PM is satisfied they are coping well.

Asked whether the government is aware of any companies calling for a hose pipe ban, the PMS said he was not aware.

Lobbying

Asked about the PM’s comments on Tony Blair and lobbying, the PMS said that the PM has spoken with Tony Blair on various occasions in the past.

Pushed for more detail, the PMS said that the government regularly publishes meetings held with external organisations.

Published 19 July 2013