NHS budgets, the European Council and the renaming of Big Ben's tower were discussed at this press briefing.
Big Ben tower
Asked for the Prime Minister (PM)’s reaction to the renaming of Big Ben’s tower, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that the PM was very supportive and thought it was a fitting tribute to the Queen and the service she had given to the country in this jubilee year.
Asked if the PM was worried a hospital trust might be going bust and whether he blamed the squeeze on resources, the PMS said that the NHS budget had been protected in the Spending Review. The Secretary of State had written to the hospital trust and no decisions had been taken yet but there were difficulties with the Private Finance Initiative scheme (PFI) which needed to be addressed.
Asked if there would be a fundamental review of PFI, the PMS said that HM Treasury had been looking at PFI and would continue to do so.
Asked if President Van Rompuy and President Barroso’s proposals for Europe would need approval from the UK, the PMS said that we were still looking at the details of the proposals that had been circulated. The paper was essentially about the governance of the Eurozone and there would no doubt be other thoughts from Eurozone countries in particular and that there would be a first discussion on the subject at the end of this week.
Asked if the UK government agreed with the German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble when he said that those who wanted a strong Europe would have to surrender power to Brussels, the PMS said that the logic of a monetary union was closer fiscal union, which implied some pooling sovereignty by the Eurozone countries.