Implausible story no.16


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…

First item…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 People.

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?

Well ….I suppose it means that he gets some more holiday

Does she say I have to, sorry PM just a slip… does she say whether the new father has to stay at home or could he, for example, you understand PM I say this without prejudice…


Go to the south of France for his year off

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

Second item…
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 in London.

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 Tax

Deputy PM?

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 you…

Where was I? … Oh yes. He says he feels more like Father Christmas than the boss of the tax collectors'

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' complaints then

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
You remember…
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..

Right… 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… that sounds about right
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 6 months?

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?


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