Just an ordinary cabinet meeting at
Number Ten, some months hence
Has everyone had their rich tea biscuit
before Deputy PM clears away the dishes?
Murmur of assent as a few hands grab the remainder of the biscuits
While Deputy PM is clearing up I'd just
like to thank him for preparing the agenda as always
The Secretary of State
for Thingamajigs has come up with a super idea. It's a new clause
in the Paternity Leave Entitlement Act to apply to Very Important
She says that new fathers should get
6 months holiday on full pay when their partner has a baby.
That sounds great PM
You would say that.
Will it be backdated PM?
Don't be an ass Brown!
Anyway that's not the whole story
She also says new fathers can have an additional 6 months paternity
unpaid leave after the 6 months paid leave
That's a whole year off PM
Look here Brown just because you got
a GCSE in maths doesn't mean you have to flaunt the fact in our
faces at every meeting
Sorry PM it won't happen again. What
if a new father is a new father again after a year PM?
.I suppose it means that
he gets some more holiday
Does she say I have to, sorry PM just
does she say whether the new father has to stay
at home or could he, for example, you understand PM I say this
Go to the south of France for his year
Well I suppose, as we haven't actually
written the words yet, I'm sure we can make that bit deliberately
vague and it won't say you, sorry a new father, has to stay at
home; so I suppose he could go to the south of France
Yes what is it Brown?
Will the legislation say anything about
taking the new mother and baby to the south of France?
No I'm sure it won't
That's very interesting PM
I'm sure I don't understand what you're
getting at Brown.
Anyway enough of all this, we must get
down to business
Fire away Eustace
I had a constituent tell me there was
a shortage of houses in the London area PM and he'd like me to
raise it under PM's Question Time
Thank you for advising me Eustace.
You seem keen to tell me something so carry on.
I think we ought to play it this way
PM, you can make it a kind of public statement, something we
can keep referring to
you know the sort of thing
Give me a minute
Will each member round the cabinet table that lives in London
please raise their hand
Thank you folks that's 25
Now will each of those members with more than one house please
keep their hand raised
Thank you again lads and lasses that's 25
The statistics don't lie PM you can answer the question without
a problem: there are plenty of houses in the London area, in
fact, statistically, there are enough for everyone to have at
least two houses
There's absolutely no evidence that there's a housing shortage
Good Eustace, you'll go far.
Right that's settled deputy PM
Now what's this last agenda item, Deputy PM, about discussing
the Inland Revenue?
The boss of the Inland Revenue is getting
very upset PM
He says he's handed out more money this year to these wastrels
and layabouts on the scrounge than he's managed to get in Income
What is it Eustace?
Were those his exact words Deputy PM?
Well, no, not really, he actually used
the word "customers", but I think that's so utterly
silly I substituted my own description
OK Deputy PM sorry to have interrupted
Where was I?
Oh yes. He says
he feels more like Father Christmas than the boss of the tax
If he thinks he's handed out too much
then tell him to ask for it back
He's already thought of that PM
He sent out 4 million letters advising people they've been overpaid
and he wants the money back
Aren't people complaining about him
stopping his handouts Deputy PM?
No fear of that PM, everyone has to
telephone the Inland Revenue to get in touch with them and there's
only one operator
Well at least she can sort out peoples'
No she can't PM, it's a he and he's
just started paternity leave
The last time we checked there were 2.5 million people in the
queue listening to music and waiting for the operator to get
back from leave
That won't do Deputy PM
Any suggestions anybody?
Why should the Inland Revenue have a
free number to receive complaints PM?
Where have you been for the last 10
years you buffoon?
We stopped free phone calls simply ages
ago just after we stopped free envelopes
The envelopes used to have "OHMS" on the top but HM
discovered the Post Office were charging her for the postage
and suggested, very nicely, that we put a stop to them
over to you again Deputy PM..
well I suppose we could
suggest the Inland Revenue change their national call rate number
to something sensible PM
After all somebody has to pay for maternity leave for Inland
Revenue VIP staff
A premium rate number say £1 per minute
To make it more interesting perhaps we could have different numbers
you could tap in when you first ring up
You mean "Press 1 for Working Families
Tax Credit", and "Press 2 for other goodies",
and so on?
No, no PM, with only one operator expected
back from holiday that wouldn't be fair
I had in mind "Press 1 for Vivaldi", "Press 2
for Cliff Richard", and so on
After all we have to give value for money otherwise the Premium
Line Watchdog chappie you hired the other year will get upset
Right Deputy PM, advise the boss of
the Inland Revenue of our decision
Your wish is my command PM. OK lads
and lasses any other business?
Not you again Brown.. what is it?
Could I arrange to have my yearly salary
paid over the first 6 months of a year and nothing over the second
Put on your Chancellor's hat and answer
your own question?
I don't see any trouble PM
OK Chancellor. I'm sure you'll arrange
something if needs be.
Incidentally, when would you like to start?
Say about 9 months from now PM if that's OK?