Press release

Press briefing: morning 4 September 2013

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on Syria, the Border Force, tax and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

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



Asked for the Prime Minister’s response to President Putin’s comments on Syria, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMS) said that if members of the international community were willing to play a full part in shouldering their responsibilities, that would be welcome. Britain continued to engage all its G8 and G20 partners. He noted that from reports that day, Britain clearly remained in a very different place around responsibility for the chemical weapons attack, but would continue to engage with all partners.

Asked if the PM believed that President Putin was genuinely interested in pursuing peace, the PMS pointed out that Britain had been working with international partners, including Russia for some time, for example at Sochi and at G8 at Lough Erne to try and find a political solution. Lough Erne was about agreeing about the importance of the Geneva II process, so there was engagement on that front but clearly on some very important issues, Britain remained in a very different place.

Asked why the PM was refusing to allow Iran to be part of the Geneva II process, the PMS said that what was needed for a successful outcome to secure a transitional government was a very constructive approach and that was why the Foreign Secretary had set out the views he had.

Border Force

Asked for a response to National Audit Office (NAO) report on the Border Force, the PMS said he shared the position set out by Mark Harper that morning.


Asked if the PM had any sympathy with Margaret Hodge’s suggestion that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) should look at rules on taxation with regard to Vodfaone, the PMS said tax matters were a matter for the Chancellor. He added that the government had invested in HMRC, as a result of which significant increases in tax had been collected.


Asked about the Home Affairs Select Committee’s (HASC) request to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) regarding corporate clients of private investigators and making the list public, PMS said that it was an operational matter for SOCA and with regard to the HASC, its actions were a matter for the Committee.

[SOCA:Serious Organised Crime Agency] [HMRC: HM Revenue and Customs]

Published 5 September 2013