My favourite backbencher pays another visit to the Lord Chancellor. Completely imagined of course. No snooping going on. That just isn’t fair or British.
Lord Chancellor Don’t I know you?
Backbencher Yes Lord Chancellor, I came to see you a few weeks ago about the Legal Aid reforms.
LC Yes. I never forget a trouble maker.
BB I don’t like to think of myself as a trouble maker, I was only raising a few concerns about your plans….
LCYes well, we shall do what I always do, and we can agree to disagree then I do what I want.
BB Very droll.
LC What is?
BB What you just said. About agreeing to disagree and then doing what you want. I mean we are in the middle of a consultation and you have promised this time it’s genuine.
LC Well it is genuine. I have genuinely asked what people think about the proposals that I have already decided to bring in. We can play around a little with the detail so people can see we have genuinely listened.
BB Oh I see.
LC In government if you are going to be a reformer you just have to bite the bullet and reform.
BB Yes, I know. You’ve said that before.
LC I know. I like the sound of it. Macho. Attack dog-like. So when it comes to consultations you can’t get all namby-pamby and listen. Look at the pickle it’s got Hunt in. Should have had the courage of his convictions. As I said to Hunt the other day “in government if you are going to be Home Secretary you just have to bite the bullet and save Gideon some cash”.
BB Sound advice no doubt. Anyway I am not here to talk about the Legal Aid.
LC Thank f….. goodness for that. I would have had to fire Felicity.
BB Who is Felicity?
LC The gal you spoke to make this appointment. Had to fire Maureen after she let you through last time. Next thing I know she would have had me sitting down talking to Ashtray and Biker.
LC Doesn’t matter. Just a little joke between Quentin and I.
BB I am not going to ask. But Felicity and Maureen are kind of the reason I am here.
LC I see, been caught have you?
BB Caught doing what?
LC Doing a Cecil Parkinson. Or, as you said both of their names, perhaps you are more of an Alan Clark?
BB Good Lord no.
LC Right. You are not going to tell me that you are the kind of chap that shouldn’t be allowed in a B&B are you, because I am not sure I am the person to confide in.
BB No Lord Chancellor, I am here about your wife.
LC WHAT? You are sitting here calmly telling me it’s my wife you’ve been sha….
BB NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOO! My constituents have been writing to me wanting to raise some questions about you employing your wife.
LC So it’s not about sex then?
BB Definitely not.
LC Jolly good. So, what has my wife got to do with your constituency?
BB It is just that some of my constituents have written to me asking about you employing your wife. They say, well, they say it undermines your credibility as a reformer and as a Minister of State.
LC What does?
BB Giving your wife a job. People question whether she actually does anything.
LC Of course she does.
LC She is my secretary.
BB But don’t you have people in your department who work as your secretary? Like Felicity?
LC Yes but this is in connection with my constituency role. It is different.
BB Okay. Another thing. You pay her £37,500 per year.
LC I certainly do.
BB Doesn’t that seem rather a lot for a secretary?
LC But she is an Executive Secretary.
LC One of the first things I learnt at the BBC was that if you add “executive” to any job title and you immediately add 20% to any salary.
BB I am sure Legal Executives will be pleased to hear that.
LC Ah…yes…well. One of the first things I learnt here was add the word “legal” to anything and you can take 40% off it. It’s swings and roundabouts.
BB Do you have any concerns about how this looks?
LC We all do it.
BB I don’t.
LC Well you are coming across as a little naive generally so I am not surprised.
BB And actually only 142 out of 650 MPs employ anyone connected to them.
LC Perhaps it takes a certain vision to see the obvious benefits.
BB Well I do hope that you get good service because at £37,500 per year that places it in the second highest bracket of salaries paid by any MP to a connected party.
LC As I have told you before, you have to pay to get quality.
BB But according to the ONS the mean income for a female barrister in 2011 was £34,000.
LC And? Your point is?
BB Well don’t you think that’s a bit rich?
LC Yes I do. Rich is the word. Those fat cat bastards. This is taxpayers’ money we are talking about here. It isn’t free money. We have to make sure they are getting value for money. It’s not there to line the pocket of some lawyer representing a fraudster.
BB No, Lord Chancellor, not the money paid to the barrister but the money paid by the taxpayer to your wife. Are they getting value for money?
LC Of course they are….mobile telephone rings, the ringtone is “Nobody Does it Better”. The Lord Chancellor answers….. Hello snookums…..Yes dear. I am just in a meeting……..No I am seeing Harry with Gideon later, owe him a drink……….What’s that dear? What time will I be home? Depends on which home….. giggles….. I know I always say that sweety-pie, but it still amuses me. Right I will be home about 7, then off out to meet some chaps from the constituency party so I don’t need supper. See you in a bit darling…..hangs up and turns to Backbencher….. Sorry about that, Mrs G just checking up on me.
BB Shouldn’t she know. After all she is your Executive Secretary….
LC Smart arse. Where were we?
BB Well I couldn’t help but draw the comparison between what you pay your wife and what we pay a lot of barristers.
LC You have got a real bee in your bonnet about this haven’t you?
BB Well I just wonder about the taxpayer and your wife. Was she the only candidate for the position?
LC Well there was Laura and Henrietta. But Laura was a bit needy and Hen got upset when I happened to say that her friend had a nice smile but fairly much from the moment I met Mrs G we were in a serious relationship.
BB No Lord Chancellor, not for the position as your wife but as your executive secretary. Did you put it out for tender? Get value for money?
LC Good Lord no. Mrs G and I have an existing relationship, the trust is there so things go quicker and smoother because we know each other so we don’t spend ages going over old ground.
BB Does that remind you of anything Lord Chancellor? Does that in anyway strike a chord with you?
LC No. Nope, sorry, you’ll have to help me.
BB I am really beginning to think you are beyond help….
LC Look old chap, lovely as these chats are, I am going to have to hurry you out now. Dave was on the phone before you came. Said he wanted me to pop over to number 10. Wants to chat to me about Northern Ireland or something. He must be planning a boys trip. Maybe a little golf. Do close the door on your way out…..
If you have got this far reading this nonsense you are probably the type of person who has already signed the e-petition. If you haven’t then click on the blue word and get it signed!