Asked about the government’s childcare proposals, and discussion within the coalition, the PMS said that the PM and DPM discussed all aspects of government policy and were considering responses to the consultation. Education Minister Liz Truss had set out the government’s position in the House; the important issue was how to improve access to high quality childcare. The UK had some of the most expensive childcare provision in Europe as well as one of the tightest ratios between children and carers.
Asked whether Lynton Crosby had any influence over the content of the Queen’s Speech, the PMS said that he did not. Lynton Crosby was employed by the Conservative Party and issues relating to his appointment were an issue for them.
Asked whether the PM was pleased with progress made with the economy, the PMS said that the PM believed the economy was healing but as the Chancellor had said, it remains a long road which would not be smooth.
Russia and Syria
Questioned on the PM’s trip to Russia and discussions on Syria, the PMS said that the PM would meet President Putin ahead of the G8 meeting and would discuss a range of issues including Syria. Russia was an important part of the international community and was an important contributor regarding discussions on Syria. The UK was exploring all options as part of putting political pressure on the Assad regime. Asked about the use of chemical weapons, the PMS said he would not comment on intelligence issues, but the assessment was that chemical weapons were very likely to have been initiated by the regime. There was no evidence of rebel use.
Asked to comment on the court proceedings IPSA were taking against Stewart Jackson MP, the PMS said that IPSA was independent. Any issue between IPSA and individual MPs was a matter between them.