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David Cameron covers welfare reform, public spending, the Lisbon Treaty and candidate selection at his monthly press conference

David Cameron press conf Sept 2009 At his monthly press conference this morning, David Cameron gave his take on the leaked Treasury documents showing planned spending cuts of 9.3%, which I have added to the original thread on that issue.

He also covered a range of other issues, including the following.

On today's Centre for Social Justice Report: "The report shows that the big thinking on reforming the welfare state is taking place on the Centre-Right of British politics". He said that it was an "interesting report" and that the party would study it "very carefully".

Defending ring-fencing of the International Aid budget: He defended the ring-fencing of the DfID budget, saying that it was about showint "the sort of country that we are... a generous, outward-looking country" that wants to recognise that even in a recession people on the other side of the world are "desperately poor and need our help". But he emphasised the need for transparency in the aid budget and said he agreed that it was not appropriate that aid money was going to China.

On the potential for defence cuts and/or cancelling specific projects: He said it was difficult in Opposition to get details of contracts and so on, but that it was important there was a proper strategic defence review "quickly after the election". He said that defence firms should not take everything they've read in The Times at face value. He added later that no area is exempt from the need to control public spending... Do we discuss all things that could be done? Of course we do".

Freezing public sector pay? Mr Cameron refused to make a commitment to this, saying that the process of assessing how to make savings was "very ordered" and that furthers would follow in due course.

On the Labour line that Conservatives are "salivating about spending cuts": "Rubbish... no-one wants to reduce public spending," he said. He went on to talk about the NHS as the "most valuable part of public spending" and that it "wouldn't be right to cut it".

On the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty: He said that no-one should intervene in the Irish referendum and that it was up to the Irish people... no-one should bully them or browbeat them either before or after the vote. As to what  Conservative Government would do if the treaty had already passed in all countries on its election, he rep[eated his much used formula that several countries are yet to ratify and implement the treaty, so he doesn't want to prejudge what they are doing - and that unless/until they have all passed it, "we are clear we want to have that referendum [in Britain]... and recommend a no vote".

New additions to the candidates' list: The response to his call for new would-be candidates to come forward was "overwhelming"  and extra staff had ben drafted into CHQ to deal with the interest. 4,000 people registered interest, of whom 200 have already attended a Parliamentary Assessment Board - and 70 of those were passed and added to the candidates' list. A further 100 are immiently to attend PABs. Mr Cameron said that the new candidates already added to the list came from "all walks of life", including doctors,frmer policemen, lecturers, charity workers and even a couple of former ambassadors.

Jonathan Isaby


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