Government Communications - Communications Committee Contents


Briefing from the Prime Minister's spokesman on: Baby P, economy, Iceland, SME meeting, Gurkha petition and pirates

Baby P

The Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) began by telling the assembled press that the Baby P statement from Ed Balls was an update and followed on from the exchanges at DCSF Questions earlier this week. Asked if the statement would be substantive, the PMS repeated that he expected it to be an update. It was about keeping the House informed, as there had not been a full statement on the issues relating to the Baby P case so far.


Asked if there was any response to mortgage figures and retail sales, the PMS said that we didn't normally comment on monthly figures. These figures fluctuated from month to month and this was clearly a difficult time for the British economy as it was a difficult time for the global economy. This was why the Government was determined to take action and give real help to people now, in order to help them get through this period.

Asked for his assessment of the effectiveness of the stamp duty changes that came into effect in September, the PMS said it was far to early to make an assessment at this point. Insofar as there would be any assessment, it was really for the Treasury to comment on in the PBR.


Asked about where we were on the package for Iceland, the PMS replied that there was a joint statement that had been put out by the UK, Dutch and German governments which read:

"In supporting the IMF programme the UK, the Netherlands and Germany welcomed Iceland's commitment to meet its obligations to depositors and ensure the fair, equal and non-discriminatory treatment of creditors. As part of the international support for Iceland, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany would work constructively in the continuing discussions with Iceland to conclude agreements on pre-financing that enabled Iceland to meet its obligations towards depositors shortly."

Asked if the support given by the UK was due to assurances made by the Icelandic Government on non-discriminatory treatment of creditors, the PMS said he did not have enough information on the specifics of the discussions, so people should check with the Treasury.

Asked if the amount given by the UK Government was in the region of £5 billion, the PMS said he was not in a position to comment on any specific numbers and he advised people to speak to the Treasury.

SME Meeting

Asked for a read-out of the meeting, the PMS said that this was one of a series of meetings that the Prime Minister was having, listening to the concerns of businesses. We recognised that some small and medium-sized businesses were facing tough times and that was why, as the Prime Minister had said in the House yesterday, we would be taking action and announcing the action in the PBR in order to help small businesses at this time. We were only able to do that because of the commitment that we were making to support the economy through a fiscal stimulus.

Asked if the small businesses had any particular areas where they wanted more assistance, the PMS said that it would probably be best for people to speak to the small business organisations themselves to get a view as to what they were asking of the Government. The PMS added that it was a very useful and constructive meeting.

Gurkha Petition

Put that the Gurkhas would be handing in a petition at No10 today and would there be any further Government announcements on the issue, the PMS said that the Government position on this was set out by the Home Secretary at the time of the recent court case judgement. Where there was a compelling case, soldiers and their families should be considered for settlement. The judge did agree that our cut-off date of 1997 was a fair date, but as the Home Secretary had made clear after the ruling, we would revise and publish new guidance and we would honour our commitment to the Gurkhas by reviewing all cases by the end of the year.


Asked about a possible EU force in the Gulf of Aden to combat piracy, the PMS emphasised that this was something that had been under consideration and been looked at and planned for, for some time. Planning was under way for an EU mission to the region to help combat pirating as a successor to the NATO mission. Subject to contributions from other member states, we had offered to host the operational headquarters for that EU mission, command the operation and to provide a frigate. Discussions were still ongoing and this was still at the planning stage.

Asked if he knew where and when these discussions were taking place, the PMS said that on process questions it would be best to speak to the MoD.


previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009