Asked to explain the apparent inconsistency in the Prime Minister s remarks about Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, the PMS said there was no inconsistency in the Prime Minister s remarks.
Asked whether it was capital gains tax, or flipping that the Prime Minister found totally unacceptable in Hazel Blears behaviour, the PMS reiterated the Prime Minister s comment of that morning that not everyone was in the same situation, that Hazel Blears herself decided that in order to remove any ambiguity the right thing to do was to pay the capital gains tax liability and the Prime Minister welcomed that. The PMS said that in relation to the case of Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon and Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell, they had given detailed explanation of their situation in relation to capital gains tax and sought advice from HMRC. On the basis of the explanations they have given the Prime Minister was confident that they have both acted in a way that was consistent with both the letter of the law and the spirit of the rules.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought Hazel Blears acted within the spirit of the rules, the PMS said it was the Prime Minister s view that it was right that Hazel Blears paid capital gains tax and that she herself acknowledged it was the right thing to do to remove any ambiguity. Asked if the Prime Minister thought what Geoff Hoon and James Purnell had done was acceptable, the PMS said the Prime Minister thought that on the basis of the explanations the two had given, they acted in a way that was consistent with the letter of the law and the spirit of the rules.
Asked if the Prime Minister believed Hoon and Purnell had no capital gains tax liability, the PMS said it was clear from their statements that they have confirmed with HMRC there was no capital gains tax liability a fact which had nothing to do with the system of parliamentary allowances and the designation of first and second homes for parliamentary allowances.
Asked if the Prime Minister stood by the remark that what Hazel Blears did was totally unacceptable, the PMS said the Prime Minister stood by what he had said, but also welcomed the fact that Hazel Blears repaid the money when she found out there was a problem.
Asked how the Prime Minister could have someone in his Cabinet who behaved in a totally unacceptable way, the PMS reiterated that Ms Blears had repaid the money, the Prime Minister believed she was doing a good job in helping communities get through this difficult time and that the Prime Minister had full confidence in her.
Asked whether it was true that the PMS did not know whether Hazel Blears ought to have paid capital gains tax or not and that her account with HMRC was currently in credit, the PMS said the issue was one for HMRC.
At for the Prime Minister s views on the comment that Conservative MP Anthony Steen had made, blaming this wretched Government for introducing the Freedom of Information Act, the PMS said he would not comment on the matter directly, but pointed out the Prime Minister thought introducing the Freedom of Information Act was the right thing to do to bring transparency to Government, which was good for the country and the better functioning of Government.
Put that some reports were estimating it would take one year to examine all of the MPs expenses claims for the last four years – how much money would be spent, and how speedy would the process be? The PMS pointed out that the Prime Minister would like to see the exercise completed as soon as is practical but acknowledged it was a big logistical exercise.
Briefing took place at 16:45 | Search for related news
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