Press briefing: morning 7 January 2014
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on Afghanistan, flooding, spending, the NHS, immigration and rail fares.
The PMS provided a readout from the cabinet meeting that morning.
Asked about progress in Afghanistan, the PMS said that significant progress had been made in the strength and resilience of the Afghan Security Forces. The purpose of the UK’s intervention was to ensure Afghanistan did not become a haven for terrorism again. The drawdown of UK troops was on track.
Asked about floods seen across the country, the PMS said it was important to recognise the impact floods had to people’s lives and property. There were always lessons to be learned from the response. One million properties had been protected from flooding in December. The government had spent more on flood defences since 2010 than the preceding four year period and was investing through to 2021. Front line flood services would continue to be prioritised and protected.
Asked about future spending decisions, the PMS said the government was committed to eliminating the deficit by 2017/2018. There was a detailed spending allocation in place up to 2015/2016. There had been no discussion of future welfare spending decisions at cabinet.
National Health Service (NHS)
Asked about the Health Secretary’s view on NHS performance over winter, the PMS said the Health Secretary noted statistics at cabinet saying Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments had met their 4 hour targets in the most recent period. The NHS always faced pressure over winter, which is why extra funding had been made available.
Asked why the Prime Minister (PM) had not given a statement on the most recent European Council, the PMS said the PM had updated parliament by written ministerial statement (WMS). The last European Council had concluded while the House was in recess.
Asked whether the PM wanted to extend the 3 month period in which new migrants could not claim benefits, the PMS said the government was taking measures to address benefit tourism and was doing all it could within the law. The PM would also continue to work with other governments and the European Commission regarding migrants claiming child benefits for children living abroad.
Asked about the national minimum wage, the PMS said the minimum wage was a matter for the Low Pay Commission to consider.
Asked about rail firms increasing prices for parking services to compensate for rail fare caps, the PMS said it was right that the government had taken action to reduce the scale of fare increases.