» Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Turner Report

Asked what the Prime Minister’s final reaction was to the Turner Report, and did he intend to see it implemented in legislation while he remained Prime Minister, the PMOS replied that as people knew whenever the second Turner report was published, the Prime Minister welcomed it as a serious piece of work. There would be a series of questions that we needed to address and we would address those in the White Paper which would be published later this spring.

What was important was that we did have proposals which took seriously the issues raised by Lord Turner in the long term interests of the country. As we said at the time when the second report was published, those also had to be affordable. However, what we would come up with in the White Paper was a coherent response to the issues raised. Therefore, the PMOS said that he could not get into answering the detailed questions at the moment, but we had made it clear at the time of the publication of the second report that we believed that it was a serious piece of work which had to be taken seriously.

Put that Lord Turner had said that everyone had agreed that there were limits to means testing, and did that include the Prime Minister, the PMOS said that we had made our view clear at the time, and that we accepted the analysis. What Lord Turner had not said was that means testing did not have a place. The PMOS said that we should see where we got to in terms of the overall proposal.

Asked if we were going to legislate on the back of the White Paper, the PMOS said it was better to take things one step at a time. What the Prime Minister had made very clear was that of course we had to take our time and consider these matters properly, but we also had to get on with it in terms of dealing with the issue. This was a serious issue which the country wanted addressed in a serious way, and we would do that.

Asked if May was in spring, the PMOS replied that the journalist should speak to the Met Office for the precise definition of spring!

Asked who was drawing up the White Paper, and was it the DWP, the PMOS said that what people would get in response to Lord Turner was a Government response. That clearly involved all the relevant departments, but the PMOS said that he was not going to give out a score card.

Asked when had the Prime Minister last discussed this issue with the Chancellor, and did we accept the characterisation that the Chancellor had a substantial difference of opinion to the Prime Minister on this, the PMOS replied that he was not going to mark BBC coverage out of ten anymore than he would for the Guardian coverage; all the PMOS would say was that the Guardian’s coverage would have got a higher score today. In terms of discussions, this was discussed as a serious issue within Government; it was a serious issue, so people should keep the focus on the substance and not the soap opera.

Put that the PMOS had talked about the issues raised by Lord Turner, and was the PMOS saying that there was a question mark over the actions, the PMOS replied that Lord Turner had produced the issues and analysis that needed to be looked at. What was the right of Government was to look at each of those and produce a coherent response. We would produce that coherent response. What the PMOS was not going to do was go through the tick-list now and say whether it was a good idea or not. What was important was that people knew that we were taking this issue as it was, i.e. one that had to come up with a long-term solution in the interests of the country, and that was what we would do. That was why we welcomed the general thrust of the Turner report, as it was a serious long-term analysis.



Briefing took place at 16:00 | Search for related news

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