Highlights of the press conference:
David Cameron launched the latest report of the Democracy Taskforce which focuses on restoring trust in politics. David Cameron ran through its six main recommendations and said that he was attracted to almost all of them:
- A £10m cap on total election spending and a £50K cap on individual donations.
- That the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards should investigate breaches of the ministerial code.
- That the process by which ministers and civil servants consult on jobs they take after public office should be put on a statutory basis.
- MPs should no longer vote on their own pay but an independent review body should decide their remuneration. The review process should include a link to a civil service employment grade.
- MPs’ allowances should be tidied and the Communications Allowance abolished.
- The MPs’ pensions scheme should be closed to new entrants. Ben Brogan has a little more on this.
George Pascoe Watson of The Sun asked about ConservativeHome’s campaign on public spending. David Cameron said that the public spending settlement with 2% growth was already quite tight and there was no case to change it.
He said that he stood by his remarks of last week when he praised the "fascinating" Barack Obama. He was also a great admirer of John McCain, he said, but his overall position was to watch with interest and not endorse any candidate.
He did not support Tony Blair becoming EU President because he did not support the idea of having an EU President.
After David Cameron confirmed that he would instruct frontbenchers to vote for a 1.9% pay increase for MPs Ben Brogan asked a tough question about the fact that half of his shadow cabinet was pursuing outside paid jobs. David Cameron replied that they were all delivering the goods but would obviously have to stop outside jobs once they were in government.
The Mirror asked if he’d kept his New Year’s resolution to stop smoking. He said that he had (although Glen Oglaza isn’t 100% convinced by Mr C’s choice of words) and encouraged The Mirror to adopt a resolution of its own not to go through his rubbish bins. Some time ago The Sunday Mirror had gone through his trash and found environmentally-unfriendly nappies but nappies, apparently, that Mr Cameron’s severely disabled son needs.
And finally ConservativeHome asked Mr Cameron if he sympathised with Dizzy Thinks’ concern that MPs have to report donations etc to two bodies – as is at the core of confusion with George Osborne’s difficulties. The Conservative leader said that rationalisation "would be worthwhile" but that it didn’t need to be done from "on high". The Electoral commission could streamline procedures in direct talks with the parliamentary authorities. Mr Cameron agreed from personal experience that double reporting was frustrating.