Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
Asked about the Prime Minister's remarks about CAP reform at PMQs and whether he was saying that we should get rid of it, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said we should take one step back and look at what the policy had been all along. Our policy all along had been to get rid of subsidies for crops because we believed that was a distorted way in which to support the rural economy. Therefore what we had always argued for was a managed process of change in which you maintain sustainable livelihoods in the countryside but didn't do so at the expense of distorting world trade. That was why we had always argued for fundamental reform of CAP and we recognised that there had been some progress in that direction but we were arguing for more. We would continue to make that case throughout our EU presidency
Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with John Denham that in order to get the ID cards bill through both Houses of Parliament, the Government would have to make serious concessions, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the Government continued to believe that the arguments for ID cards were very much in their favour. Any notion that we kept changing the argument was false. We had merely been supplementing the argument not changing it. To explain further, the impetus for this had come from the move to biometric passports, that was what was propelling this. The next few years would see a visa and passport revolution across the world. That was driving the technology and the change to biometrics. ID cards would help tackle issues such as identity theft, giving people secure means of protecting their identity, a growing crime which cost the economy £1.3billion per year. They helped tackle illegal immigration and illegal working by helping to strengthen immigration controls. They helped to combat misuse of public services by helping to ensure that only those entitled to use them would be able to do so. They also helped tackle organised crime and terrorism. All of those were reasons why we believed individually ID cards were necessary, collectively they made a very strong case. We would continue to make the case for them.
Asked about Bob Geldof's comments that he would be talking with members of the G8 in Gleneagles next week and whether that was true, the PMOS said we would talk about G8 and what would happen there at the appropriate time, not before. Asked if there was a precedent for NGO leaders to attend G8 meetings, the PMOS said that in recent years, the G8 had held outreach sessions and African leaders had come and so on, the spirit of G8 had been to reach out to people beyond the 8. Asked if Bob Geldof would therefore be at an outreach session, the PMOS said that it was a very clever way to ask hypothetical question, perhaps the cleverest this year, but it was nonetheless hypothetical.
Asked about whether the policy on deportations to Zimbabwe was being reviewed, the PMOS said that he had said yesterday that the Government's policy hadn't changed and it was still the Government's policy to consider individual applications on an individual basis. It had always been the case that if an MP raised an individual case that it would be investigated. That remained the case. In terms of the Government's policy, that had not changed for reasons outlined by the Prime Minister on Monday. Asked if the day-to-day operation of the policy might be altered, the PMOS repeated that the policy hadn't changed. He would not give a running commentary on individual cases.
Civil Service Bill
Asked when the Government expected to publish its Civil Service bill, the PMOS said that so far a draft bill had been published, that remained the case.
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