Press briefing: morning 21 October 2013
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on China, energy, Grangemouth, free schools, food waste and Scotland.
Asked why the Transport Secretary was in China, the PMS said that he was visiting as part of the government’s agenda to strengthen trade links.
Asked about N Power’s decision to raise their prices, the PMS said that the Prime Minister (PM) understood the pressure facing household budgets and that nobody wanted to see higher prices. The government was legislating to ensure people were on the lowest tariffs and increasing competition in the market as seen by the Hinkley Point investment announcement. It was important to have a sustainable approach to economic prosperity, as well as targeted support for families such as the measures on council tax and fuel duty.
Asked about the Hinkley Point announcement, the PMS said that it was an important announcement bringing 25,000 jobs to Britain and a broader energy mix when complete. Britain needed energy security and competition in the market and the deal would kick start the UK nuclear industry, bringing safe and long term provision of power.
Asked whether the PM agreed with the Archbishop of Canterbury that energy companies needed to look at their social duty, the PMS said that it was understandable that customers were angry at price rises as it was a major area of public concern. The government was taking action.
Asked whether any of the chief executives of the ‘Big Six’ energy firms advised the PM on policy, the PMS said that there had been no change in the Business Advisory Group. The government was in discussion with stakeholders on a wide range of policy issues.
Asked whether the PM was concerned that talks over the Grangemouth refinery may collapse, the PMS said that both sides were encouraged to continue talks to ensure the long term security of the Grangemouth site.
Asked for the government’s stance on free schools, the PMS said that the position had been set out and had not changed.
Asked about supermarket food waste, the PMS said there was widespread concern at the level of food waste and the PM had recently commented on the important work of charity in this area.
Asked whether the PM would debate with the First Minister of Scotland as part of the Scottish independence debate, the PMS said that the PM had set out his reasons for not debating the First Minister. His position had not changed.
Cost of politics
Asked whether the PM thought MPs should receive an 11% pay rise, the PMS said that MPs’ pay was a matter for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. The PM’s view was that the cost of politics should come down. The government had cut ministerial pay by 5% and frozen any increases for a parliament as well as driven down the administrative costs of Whitehall by 40%.