The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on tax, horsemeat and counter-terrorism
Prime minister’s activity
The PMS set out the Prime Ministers day - an address this morning to the Young Global Leaders forum, and a speech setting out the priorities for the UK’s Presidency of the G8. The PM will also hold a bi-lateral with Prime Minister Medvedev, meet business leaders and chair a panel discussion on international development. Further details of these meetings will be made available as soon as possible.
The PMS set out the PM’s view that its very important that individuals and companies should pay the tax that is due. It is for consumers to make their individual decisions.
Questions about controlled foreign companies reforms were directed to the Treasury, but the PMS confirmed that international discussions around tax havens and transparency, were ongoing. The PM’s view is that fair, transparent tax systems are very much an important part of a dynamic economic environment. The PMS underlined that it is important to have a tax environment that is competitive for business, alongside international cooperation on taxation, such as working with our international partners in the G8.
In a world of international corporations, you need an international approach. The PMS reminded Lobby that legislation on the general anti abuse regulation is currently before the House and that the government is taking steps to deal with aggressive abuse and will continue to discuss the matter with international partners.
Asked about reports of horsemeat contamination, the PMS responded that the Department for Food and Rural Affairs was looking into the issue.
The PMS reiterated the need to step up international cooperation on counter-terrorism - particularly in the Sahel region. Lobby were referred to the comments the PM made in his statement to Parliament on Algeria, that international cooperation was vital. Part of this involved considering the risk of doubling up of resources. PMS confirmed that cooperation with other G8 members on this issue was ongoing - such as working in partnership with Russia in the context in Afghanistan and the Japanese following the terrorist attack in Algeria. Discussions would continue as part of the UK’s G8 Presidency.
Questioned about the state of the economy, the PMS said that the government has put in place a tough credible fiscal consolidation plan to bring debt under control, significant progress has been made and although debt as a percentage of GDP has risen, the deficit has been reduced by a quarter, and debt will fall by 16/17.
Asked about the future of Freedom of Information, the PMS said that the PM’s view is that transparency is very important, but said he was not aware of any plans to change the FOI Act, and that the PM believed that the current rules were the right ones. Further questions about measures this government has taken about publishing online and lowering the threshold at which government information is published, along with other measures to increase transparency, were referred to Cabinet Office.
The PMS confirmed that should new evidence came to light of blacklisting taking place since the rules were tightened in 2010, the PM would support reviewing the case for an inquiry.