Press briefing: morning 20 January
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on the World Economic Forum, benefits, Chequers, and Snowden.
World Economic Forum
Asked which ministers are going to the World Economic Forum and what time the PM is speaking, the PMS said that he did not have a full list of attendees and a full schedule would be made available when it was ready.
Asked who pays for ministers to go to the World Economic Forum, the PMS said that this was normal government business and costs would be met in the usual way.
Asked whether there were any further planned announcements from DWP for later in the week, the PMS said that he had no further information, but highlighted that the PM’s Financial Times article at the end of the last year had referred to the announcement that the Work and Pensions Secretary had made today.
Asked what was the PM’s view on Iran being invited to the Geneva II talks, the PMS said the PM shared the Foreign Secretary’s view.
Asked whether there were plans to publish a full list of visitors to Chequers, the PMS said that the government had published the information we had committed to. With regard to party political business the government was following the approach that had been taken since before 2010.
Asked whether there would be public concern about lobbyists attending Chequers, the PMS said that the government had set out the information it had committed to, which related to government business at Chequers.
Asked why information about one set of meetings would be published, but not another, the PMS said that the government was setting out information about government business, and the government was publishing more information than ever before, including about meetings by ministers and permanent secretaries. The approach taken to political meetings was the same as before 2010.
Asked to confirm whether the meetings that were not included in the published list had nothing to do with government policy and were with party donors, the PMS said that there was a long standing distinction made between government business and political business, and that questions about donations would not be for him to answer.
Asked how much the Conservative party paid for the use of Chequers, the PMS said that would be a question for the Conservative party.
Asked what rules were applied when deciding which meetings need to be declared, the PMS replied that there are Cabinet Office rules about what is government business and what is party political business.
Asked whether the PM still wanted to see an end to secretive companies working in secretive countries, the PMS pointed to the work that the government has been leading during its presidency of the G8, at the G20 and at the OECD.
Asked if the PM is concerned that Smythson is now owned by a network of trusts in tax havens, the PMS said that as usual, he would not speak about individual tax arrangements.
Monthly press conference
Asked if there were plans for the PM to conduct a monthly press conference, the PMS said that the Prime Minister is regularly interviewed by a wide variety of media outlets.
Asked whether the PM had a view on Lord Rennard resuming his duties, the PMS said that would be a matter for the Liberal Democrats.
Asked whether the PM thought that the activity Lord Rennard is accused of is acceptable, the PMS said that everyone should receive the respect they deserve.
Asked for a response to criticism of lack of debate about the on Snowden revelations compared to America, the PMS said that he would continue to make points he has done already, principally that the UK has a strong oversight system in place.
Central African Republic
Asked if the PM had a view on sending assistance to the Central African Republic, the PMS said that the PM had been clear that no UK combat troops would be sent.
Asked whether the PM agreed with the Conservative Party Chairman about the French economy, the PMS said that he believed that the central point Mr Schapps was making was a critique of Opposition policy and not for him to comment on.