Asked what direction the AV Bill was heading in, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that he was not able to say much ahead of the debate, which had just started. We would see how that went and take stock this afternoon/evening.
Asked what the Government’s thoughts was on how to assuage those who had concerns about changing the size of the boundaries, the PMS said that Mark Harper had been talking about this today; we were talking to people about the different options. It was important that the fundamental purpose of the bill remained, which was that we had equal constituencies. It was not our intention to move away from that principle.
Asked how the Prime Minister felt about the prospect of a deal, the PMS said that we were talking about the options various amendments had been put down. However, the basic package should remain, which was a referendum on AV and equalising constituencies.
Asked if it was true that Lord Strathclyde had offered to resign, the PMS said that he had not heard that.
Asked how wedded the Prime Minister was to the figure of 600 constituencies, the PMS said that it was an important part of the proposals.
Put that one point of contention was whether or not 600 was the right number, the PMS said that he wasn’t sure how much of a point of contention the precise number was. The Government’s proposal had always been to reduce the numbers. There had been a lot of debate about what the figure should be, but given the nature of the debates so far that did not necessarily mean it was a big issue of contention.
Asked if getting the Bill through before 5 May was more important than the principle of keeping the two parts of the Bill together, the PMS said that they were both part of the same Bill, they always had been and we had no intention of splitting them.
Asked if the Government would be prepared to wait until April next year to put the Bill through, the PMS said that he would not get into speculation.
Asked what the Government would give ground on, the PMS said that there was a debate ongoing and he would not speculate.
Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news
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