Putin call and Cyprus
Asked about the PM’s call with President Putin, the PMS said they had discussed a range of issues including Cyprus and Syria. The PM’s view was that the situation in Cyprus was an issue for the Eurozone, but it was important the banks remained stable and the situation was resolved as quickly as possible. Asked whether the UK would send more money as a contingency for serving soldiers, or whether the FCO was reviewing travel advice, the PMS said the situation was fluid and both positions would be kept under review.
Questioned on the PM’s stance on immigration, the PMS said that the PM’s view remained unchanged. He wanted a grip on immigration, and to see the annual number of net migrants reduce from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands. The DPM had also raised the issue of bond deposits in a speech, and the Home Office was working on the detail of the proposal.
Help to Buy
Asked about the Help to Buy scheme announced in the Budget, the PMS said that the intention was to help people onto, and move up, the housing ladder. The process of technical consultation was underway. The PM was confident that the consultation would deliver the process that fulfilled the policy intention.
Asked to comment on Justice Minister Helen Grant’s position on female offenders, the PMS said that the PM’s view on offenders and reducing crime had previously been set out.
Asked whether Vicky Pryce should lose her honour, the PMS said it was a matter for the Forfeiture Committee.
Questioned on whether it was right that jobcentres had targets for sanctions, the PMS said that it was not government policy and that the DWP was investigating.
Asked whether the PM was concerned about gas supplies, the PMS said that gas supplies were not running out.
Asked how the PM would restore confidence in the NHS after the Mid Staffordshire Trust issues, the PMS said that the PM had already responded to the Francis Report findings.
Childcare and stay at home parents
Asked whether the PM thought parents who stayed at home to raise their children had any worth in society, the PMS said the PM did. While there had been reports that the latest childcare announcement would not help parents staying at home, the key point was that the government was addressing the affordability of childcare. It was important to note that marriage tax breaks were also still in the coalition agreement.