Asked about the instability of Europe's dependence on gas supply from Russia, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said there were three factors to consider, firstly the immediate supply situation for this country was not affected in any substantial way, as Malcolm Wicks had indicated. Secondly, there were clearly problems in terms of Europe and thirdly there was a longer-term issue of security of energy supply. In terms of the immediate situation for Europe the EU gas storage would act as a temporary buffer.
Put to him that the Government's proposal's for reform of incapacity benefit did not seem to be as radical as had previously been suggested, the PMOS said that the time to judge the radical nature of the proposals was when they were published at the end of January. Before we got into a discussion of how radical they were we should look at the core of the issue. The core of the issue was the question of people living in deprived areas on incapacity benefit and finding themselves in a vicious cycle where they found it difficult to get off incapacity benefit and into work as 90% of people on incapacity benefit wanted.
Child Support Agency
Put to him that John Hutton had suggested more powers for the Child Support Agency (CSA) including perhaps putting electronic tags on fathers who failed to support their children, the PMOS said that John Hutton had actually said that he would be talking about the future of the CSA when Parliament returned. It was better to wait until then.
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