Press briefing: morning 27 March 2014
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on the Europe debate, Ukraine, ATOS, the morning after pill, immigration and housing.
Asked about the previous night’s debate on the Britain in the European Union, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) said the PM had not watched the full debate. He said that the Prime Minister had made his position clear on the matter and would continue to argue why that was the right approach.
Asked whether the PM thought that the EU was responsible for the situation in the Ukraine, the PMS said that the PM was clear the responsibility lay with the Russian authorities and Russia’s supporters in the Crimea.
In reference to the early termination of ATOS’s Capability Assessment contract, the PMS said the decision was a result of government action after concerns about the operator were raised in a review last summer. He said a procurement process was being put in place to find a new provider.
Morning after pill
Asked about new restrictions on the availability of the the morning after pill, the PMS said that NICE had set out its recommendations based on expert clinical advice and, given the sensitivity of the issue, it was right that such decisions were carefully considered.
On reports of German proposals to remove migrants after 3 months of unemployment, the PMS said the effects of immigration on welfare systems were being debated across Europe and that the PM was at the forefront of the debate, pointing to government action to stop migrants claiming benefits after 6 months if they failed to find a job. He said that the PM had been working with other countries including Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands on the issue in the previous week.
Asked about allegations that Home Office had considered altering visa allowances to reduce migration figures, the PMS said that the government reviewed its schemes to prevent abuses but that no decisions had been taken.
In reference to claims that a housing bubble was on the horizon, the PMS said that house prices were still below their pre-recession peak. He noted that that the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) had said the housing market did not pose a risk in the short term and that the government had put regulatory tools in place for the FPC to use if required.