Press release

Press briefing: morning 21 October 2014

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

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesperson answered questions on Syria, the House of Lords, Fiona Woolf, prisons and household bills.

Syria

When asked about the use of intelligence and surveillance assets in Syria, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson (PMOS) said that these were being deployed to gather intelligence that could help to protect Britain from the threat posed by ISIL. The PMOS added that the aircraft were authorised to gather intelligence, not strike. The PMOS added that ministers had been clear we would return to Parliament for a separate decision if we proposed to take military action unless there was a critical British national interest at stake or the need to act swiftly to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, in which case we would act immediately and explain to Parliament afterwards.

House of Lords

When asked about the appointment of 4 new peers to the House of Lords, the PMOS said the individuals were nominated by the Prime Minister to recognise their contributions to public life and service - she added that the running costs of the House of Lords had fallen by 15% since 2010/11.

Fiona Woolf

When asked about the inquiry into child sexual exploitation, led by Fiona Woolf, the PMOS said that Home Secretary had made clear that she was confident that the review would be carried out to the highest standards of impartiality and integrity.

Prisons

When asked about a HMIP report into prisons, PMOS said that the government’s priority was to keep the British public safe and to make sure prisons were run in a safe and decent way. The PMOS added that while there was more to do, there would always be enough staff to deliver safe and effective prison regimes - adding that assaults were lower than they were 5 years ago, as were the number of positive drug tests and escapes from custody.

Household bills

When asked about more older people turning to equity release and a rise in household bills, the PMOS said that as part of its long-term economic plan the government was helping families and pensioners to deal with the impact of the great recession. She added that one way the government was doing this was by giving older people greater choice and flexibility over how they spend their pensions.