Asked about the crash of the United States Air Force (USAF) helicopter in North Norfolk, the PMS said the Prime Minister offered his condolences to the victims’ families. There would be an investigation which should be left to run its course.
Asked whether the PM was confident Universal Credit would be in place on time, the PMS said the PM had not changed his view. The government was working to a timetable and it was right to take a step by step approach to get the implementation right.
Asked about sentencing, the PMS said the government was toughening sentences. Recent statistics on the number of convictions not carrying jail sentences related to a framework in place before 2010. The government had toughened the framework with whole life tariffs and life sentences for a second serious offence. Individual sentences were a matter for judges.
Geneva II talks
Asked for the PM’s view on Iran’s exclusion from the Geneva II talks on Syria, the PMS said the PM’s view on the talks had not changed. The point behind the talks was to find a political transition to bring an end to the violence in Syria. Participants in the talks should be committed to playing a constructive role. The Iranian approach was a matter for Iran.
Asked about a scheduled call with the Polish PM, the PMS said the call had been scheduled to discuss EU matters and a readout would be provided in the usual way.
Asked about the Electoral Commission report into voting fraud, the PMS said all fraud should be investigated. The report would be considered carefully.
Minimum Alcohol Pricing
Asked about meetings between the government and drinks industry about minimum pricing, the PMS said when considering legislation it would be expected that the government met with a wide range of stakeholders. A product of the meetings had been the decision to ban alcohol being sold below the price of duty and VAT. All departments set out and published meetings with external organisations.