» Monday, June 29, 2009

Building Britain’s Future

Asked whether the plan should be called Building England s Future instead, the Prime Minister s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that people should wait for the document to be published before passing judgement. Many of the policy measures that will be referred to in the areas of housing and public services were devolved matters, but there were other areas such as welfare reform, which were not. So people should wait until the statement this afternoon to see what applied to England and what applied to the whole of the UK.

Asked if there would be a formal announcement this afternoon on the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), the PMS said that the position on the CSR was that these were matters for the Chancellor. Departmental budgets had been set out until April 2011 and the Chancellor, including most recently in an article in the Financial Times a few days ago, had said that given the fact that the economic conditions were not as clear as they might be at this point, now would be the wrong time to set departmental budgets through to 2014.

Fiscal positions of this kind were matters for the Chancellor in Budgets and PBRs. Asked if there were now four people running the UK economy, namely the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, Lord Mandelson and Ed Balls, the PMS said that the people who were responsible for managing the Government s policy on the economy were the Prime Minister and the Ministers with economic portfolios.

That was first and foremost the Chancellor, but obviously the Secretary of State for Business had an important role to play on economic policy matters as did the Secretary of State for Transport, the Secretary of State for Communities, the Minister for Housing and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions among others.

It was in order to bring together all of the key Cabinet Ministers and others responsible for economic policy that we had set up the National Economic Council (NEC), which was chaired by the Prime Minister and was the main forum through which the Government s policies on the economy and response to the recession was discussed and formulated.

Put that there seemed to be a change in emphasis and a broader approach to running the economy, the PMS said that he would not accept that for one minute. We had set up the NEC last October precisely because the nature of the economic difficulties we faced and how we came out of the recession with a stronger economy, required input from a number of different departments in Government. It was in order to bring these together in a coherent way that we set up the NEC.

Asked if this afternoon s statement was in effect a draft Queen s Speech, the PMS said that there would be a document this afternoon which would set the Government s future policy priorities and measures in a number of areas and the Government s DLP for the next session would be incorporated into that.

Asked if the new measures had been costed, the PMS said we would be setting out more specifics on the costings of some of these announcements this afternoon. As Lord Mandelson, Ed Balls and the Treasury had been saying over the last few days, we would also be setting out some of the re-prioritisation and switching that would take place in order to ensure that we continued to live within the spending totals that we had set out.

original source.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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