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No. 10 Morning Press Briefing From 4 August 2008

Morning press briefing from 4 August 2008

Briefing from the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: Free passports, National Risk Register, SATs, economy, Cabinet and miscellaneous...

Free Passports

Asked about free passports for the WWII generation, the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) said that the Home Office had announced in 2004 that it would give free passports to anyone born before 1926, and this was the realisation of that announcement.

Asked if the offer of free passports was a way of recognising the sacrifices the WWII generation had made, the PMS said that the journalist should look at the Home Office's original announcement or speak to them directly for details on exactly who was eligible; his understanding was that it was anyone born before 1926.

National Risk Register

Asked about the National Risk Register (NRR), the PMS said that the NRR was one of the measures identified in the National Security Strategy.

Asked if the NRR listed the sorts of things that might pose a risk, the PMS said that it was a register of the various sorts of risks that Government made preparations or contingencies for. The risks included, for example, disease pandemics and terrorism.


Asked if the Key Stage 2 results published tomorrow were the SATs, the PMS said yes.

Asked if everything concerning Key Stage 2 was now complete, the PMS said yes, that was his understanding.


Asked if the Government was ruling out a windfall tax, the PMS said that decisions on such things were announced in the usual way through the Pre Budget Report (PBR) or the Budget.

Asked how work was going on the economic recovery plan, the PMS said that the Government remained focused on the overall economic situation in the UK, which had been caused by the global credit crunch and the increase in quantise prices, particularly fuel. In regards to issues such as energy, the protection of those least able to heat their homes was a priority for the Government and we would continue to work with energy companies, amongst others, to make sure that we could provide help, including social tariffs, for those groups.

Asked if the Prime Minister was happy with the existing status of the winter fuel allowance, the PMS said that protecting those who were least able to afford to heat their homes was a top priority for the Government; we continued to work on measures including energy efficiency measures, to help the most vulnerable to reduce the amount of energy they use and to lower their bills.

Asked if the Prime Minister was personally involved or if the Treasury were leading on this, the PMS said that the Prime Minister took a strong interest in areas of critical importance to the British people.

Asked if the Government recognised the figure in the Financial Times of £2.75 billion in 3 years to make low income families become more energy efficient, the PMS said that that question was best directed to Defra; any specific measures would be announced in the PBR.

Asked about EU emission permits, the PMS said that this was best directed to Defra.

Asked if the Government recognised the figure in the Financial Times regarding 16-18 year old children from poor families staying in education, the PMS said it was best to check the figure with the Department.

Asked if the Government was going to bring forward an economic recovery plan in September, the PMS said that a decision of that sort would be for the Treasury to announce.


Asked when the first Cabinet meeting in September would be, the PMS confirmed that the date of the first Cabinet meeting in September would be Monday 8th and it would be held outside of London.

Asked if holding the Cabinet meeting outside of London would become common practise, the PMS said that we hoped to repeat it.

Asked if it was a Political Cabinet, the PMS said no. However, as well as a Cabinet meeting there would also be a range of events where Ministers could engage with people of the region. This was consistent with Government's approach towards engagement and consultation on the issues that effected people around the country.

Asked what type of venue it would be held in, the PMS said that he would be able to go into more detail nearer the time.

Asked if there would be facilities for broadcasters, the PMS repeated that he would be able to go into more detail nearer the time.

Asked how often Cabinet would be held outside London, the PMS said that we hoped to repeat it but was not able to give a timeframe.

Asked if the Cabinet would be taking steps to offset their increased carbon footprint, the PMS repeated that further details would be given nearer the time.

Asked why it had been decided to have Cabinet outside of London, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had always made clear that he wanted to listen and learn from the experiences of people and the challenges they faced in their daily lives. The decision to have Cabinet outside of London was entirely consistent with the Government's approach to engagement and consultation.

Put that the Cabinet meeting could stay in London and that other meetings/events could take place in areas outside London, the PMS said that Cabinet Ministers would be engaged in events with people on the same day as the Cabinet meeting.

Asked if any consideration had been given to the security dimension to holding Cabinet outside of London, the PMS said that of course security had been considered but that he would not comment further on security matters.

Asked if it was likely that people would be invited to consultation events/meetings, the PMS said that further details would be given nearer the time.

Put that cynics might say that this was a stunt, the PMS said that cynics might well say that, but that we did not agree and that Government's consistent approach was that we wanted to listen and learn from the experiences of people in this country.

Asked if the meeting on the 8th September was the only Cabinet meeting of that week, the PMS said that as far as he was aware it was.


Asked if there was a reaction to the Iranian stonewalling at the weekend, the PMS said that if there was it would come from the Foreign Office.

Asked about the guidance published today by the Department of Health on weighing and measuring children, the PMS said that from September, parents of children who had been weighed and measured at school could automatically receive their child's results. This was an important and positive change to the National Child Measurement Programme, which would help to ensure that all parents of children who were weighed and measured as part of the programme received their child's results and additional information about steps they could take to achieve a healthy weight for their family.

Asked if Alistair Darling was in charge this week, the PMS repeated what was said last week, that the Prime Minister remained in charge while he was on holiday; he continued to remain closely involved on key issues, for example he had spoken to a number of people including Kevin Rudd and Pascal Lamy about the World Trade Talks. This week, as last week, senior Ministers were available in London to help administer the work of Government, and this week Alistair Darling was co-ordinating Government activity, as Harriet Harman had done last week.

Asked if the Prime Minister was relaxed about the number of Cabinet Ministers, including Alan Johnson, who had not supported his leadership, the PMS said that he was not going to get into speculation about leadership.

Asked if the Prime Minister had full confidence in David Miliband, the PMS said yes.

Asked for an impression of how much of the Prime Minister's time was spent on the business of Government whilst on holiday, the PMS said that he was not going to get into the details of that.

Asked if the Prime Minister was planning to scrap the post of Scottish Secretary, the PMS said that he was not going to comment on that sort of speculation.


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