Asked whether the Prime Minister's remarks regarding the rebate meant the rebate "could go altogether", the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said what they meant was they were on the table for discussion if there was a commitment and a process to guarantee reform. So long as the budget remained distorted in the way it was, then we needed the rebate. It was the nature of the budget which made the rebate necessary, both now and in the past, and therefore it was in that sense, not a tablet of stone, but rather a consequence of the problem that was created by the distorted nature of the budget.
Asked what timescale the Government had to respond on the proposals for train "congestion charging", the PMOS replied the proposal was ATOC's vision for the next ten years. The PMOS said the ATOC proposal reported that passenger numbers were set to grow by one quarter over the next ten years, and it suggested congestion charging was set to manage travel during the rush hour.
Pope’s invitation to G8
Asked if the Prime Minister had invited the Pope to the G8, the PMOS replied he had not.
Asked about what the Prime Minister meant in his press conference this morning when he said that the rebate was an anomaly, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that, as the Prime Minister had made very clear at the European Council last week, the rebate was the symptom of a problem, it was not the problem itself. The rebate was only necessary because of the distorted nature of the budget. The only way in which we could make a fair contribution under the current system was by having a rebate. Countries such as France got so much more back from Europe in comparison to ourselves, due to the CAP. The fundamental way to address the problem was to address the imbalance in the budget. If you did that then the rebate wouldn't be necessary. That was why both our Prime Minister and Prime Minister Persson, who he met today saw the fundamental need to address the imbalance in the budget. Asked about the Prime Minister's phrase, 'the rebate has to go', the PMOS said he wasn't sure the Prime Minister used that phrase but what he said in the Press Conference quite explicitly was that the rebate was on the table if fundamental reform of the EU budget was also on the table and we had a guaranteed process of bringing that about.
Asked about the Prime Ministers meeting this morning with the MG-Rover task force, the PMOS said that task force updated the Prime Minister that since Rover closed on April 15th nearly 1250 MG-Rover former workers had found new jobs. Another 1092 have started training and 3000 at risk jobs in companies supplying Rover have been temporarily safe-guarded.
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