Asked if the pay awards were discussed at Cabinet this morning, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the Chancellor had set out what he was going to announce. Asked if the PMOS was in a position to give the headlines, the PMOS said no, it was better for departments to do it.
Asked if it was correct that the Prime Minister was aiming for 20 percent renewables, the PMOS said, as he had said this morning, we believe that this is a key period in the run up, not just to the EU Summit next week but also, to the G8 discussion in June and therefore what we need to do, both as a country and as the EU is set an example, in terms of setting out an ambitious target. This is because we need to show not just the US but also India and China in particular, that we are serious about climate change as a whole and therefore that's why we do support the setting out by the EU of ambitious targets, as long as the ambitious target takes into account the individual circumstances in each country.
The Leader said that, on Monday, March 5, MPs would debate the second reading of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill [Lords] (Vera Baird and Nick Ainger for Government). On Tuesday, March 6, the first day of the debate on House of Lords Reform (Jack Straw and Nigel Griffiths); Wednesday, March 7 - conclusion of the debate on House of Lords Reform Bridget Prentice and Jack Straw); Thursday, March 8 - a debate entitled "Women, Justice and Gender Equality in the UK" on a motion for the Adjournment (Vera Baird and Meg Munn); Friday, March 9 - Private Members Bills.
House of Lords Reform
The Leader said that the votes would start at 5.30pm on March 7, following the approval of a Business motion earlier this week. Currently, there were nine motions before the House, and voting would take two-and-a-quarter hours if there were divisions on each of them. Although he could not be certain, he suspected that one or two of them might not be the subject of a division. It had also been agreed to suspend the Standing Orders which prevented inconsistent motions being put to the vote. That would mean that MPs would vote on each of the key propositions even if one had been carried already.
The Leader said he had answered a question earlier in the House about whether there would be any Government statements in advance which could constrain the time available for debate. He had indicated that he hoped there would not be any except in the case of an emergency. If there were, there would be discussion about an extension of time.
Asked whether there had been any discussion about amending the motion to allow views about locations other than Manchester to be decided, the Leader said that it was the nature of delegated legislation that it should not be amendable. Therefore, a single Order would be before the House. There had been no formal discussion about whether it should be amendable. Inevitably, the recommendations from the casino advisory committee, which Tessa Jowell had said she was minded to accept, were part of a package. Mr Straw said that would be put to the House. Asked if there was any possibility of a free vote, the Leader said that it was a Government decision. The exact nature of the whipping would be determined by the Government Chief Whip in due course.
The Leader was asked about a report that the owner of the affected turkey firm in Norfolk was in line for more than £600,000 compensation. He said he could not confirm the figures. Asked further if it was appropriate that compensation should be paid, Mr Straw said that it depended on the specific circumstances and what culpability - if any - attached. It was a matter for the Secretary of State for Defra. The Leader said he was not in a position to comment on the particular case.
The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that Cabinet discussed the environment with a presentation by David Miliband which was an overview of environmental policy. Asked if it was true that the Prime Minister had overruled Alistair Darling and had made an EU deal on the environment, the PMOS said what was true was that in terms of the EU and the G8 we believe that this is a critical year on energy and the environment. That has been echoed by Chancellor Merkel who has made energy the subject of the EU Spring Summit. We believe that we have to be ambitious and therefore we have to support the proposals for providing a EU wide target for renewables. We believe that it needs to be set out in a realistic way which would take into account the individual circumstances of each country. But we believe it is right to be ambitious in Europe because that then gives us the ability to ask other countries, including the United States, but also countries such as China and India, to also be ambitious in terms of their approach as well. There is a connection between the climate change bill and the EU energy review as well. The discussions come together.
Asked if the pay awards would be with relation to top peoples pay or everyone, the PMOS said that it would be overall but the lobby should take it from what the Chancellor would say at Treasury questions.
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