How’s that belt tightening working out for you, Sir Humphrey?

Bernard, dear boy, it’s simply dreadful. I’ve just found out that as
Permanent Secretary for the Department of Administrative Affairs
I’m to get a performance bonus of nearly £20,000.

Twenty.. twenty thousand, Sir Humphrey?

Yes! All the Permanent Secretaries – Peter at the Department for
Communities and Local Government, Dame Helen at the Home
Office – all of us. We’re all in the same boat.

But that’s good isn’t it? I mean twenty thousand… it’s certainly
more than us Principal Private Secretaries are getting.

Oh, Bernard, do try to keep up. It’s a performance bonus. Can’t
you see the problem?

Ah, you mean someone might ask what the actual nature of the
performance was?

Yes! No doubt some revolting little hack from the press will
already be ringing round everyone in Whitehall he can think of,
trying to find out who got the most and what they did to earn it.

And, er, what did they do?

It doesn’t matter, Bernard.

Well, twenty grand does seem a lot for not doing anything that
matt… oh, I see. Sorry.

Bernard, must I again explain to you how demanding the position
of Permanent Secretary is? Must I reiterate how much effort is
required to look after the Minister and ensure that he’s fully briefed
and to look after the long term interests of the Department itself?

You mean, making sure the Minister doesn’t put his foot in it.

No, making sure that feet are put in ‘it’ with sufficient regularity
for us to be needed to extricate them for him, but never to put them
so deeply into it that extrication becomes impossible.

Unless he’s needed to resign?

Unless he’s needed to resign, yes. So you do understand?

Yes, I think so. You get £180,000 for making sure the Minister
doesn’t wreck the department, and you’re getting an extra twenty
thousand because he hasn’t?

Close enough. Bernard, but of course allowing it to be put like that
in the press would damage the Department and the Minister, and we
really don’t need to be put to the trouble of housetraining a new one
so soon. Now, how can we prevent all that?

Couldn’t we say that we can’t reveal details of bonuses paid because
that transparency agenda thingy requires them to be kept secret? By
the time the confusion clears it’ll all be forgotten.

No, unfortunately the Department for Business, Innovation and
Skills is using that one.

Well, it was innovative of them.

Be serious, Bernard.

Alright then, we could say that it was all agreed with the last
government and there are contracts and everything, so…

… So the new one can’t tear up the contracts but isn’t actually to
blame…

… Yes, and nor are we because it was all approved by the
government. Only not this one. And because the one that did
doesn’t exist anymore it’s sort of nobody’s fault. It just happened
and now we’re stuck with it, aren’t we?

Hmmm…

Better than the one Business, Innovation and Skills are using, isn’t it?

Bernard? Do you realise exactly what you’re suggesting?

Sir Humphrey? Er… well, it is true isn’t it.

Yes, but it could apply to all departments. The hacks would
get the same answer everywhere.

It could? They would? Oh. It could, couldn’t it?

Yes, it could. Well done, Bernard. We shall have to see that
there’s a small bonus for you.

Doesn’t the Minister have to sign off on those?

Yes he does, Bernard. And?

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Posted on July 14, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on How’s that belt tightening working out for you, Sir Humphrey?.

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