Don’t panic, Mr Boles!

Scene: The private office of BIS skills minister, Nick Boles.

Civil servant (breathlessly): “Ah, minister and permanent secretary, I’m glad I’ve caught you both. We have a situation.”

Minister: “What, trouble in the City?”

Civil servant: “No, minister, the City is fine. But, you might remember, last month you answered a parliamentary question about the imposition of financial penalties on employers by employment tribunals.”

Minister: “Oh yes, by that pesky Green woman.”

Civil servant: “Dr Lucas, yes. Anyway, the problem is, in your answer to the question, you said that eleven financial penalties have been imposed since April 2014.”

Minister: “I did? Well, you write these things. But sounds right to me. We can’t have bloody employment judges imposing penalties on employers, it would bring the economy to its knees. And don’t forget all the satellite litigation.”

Civil servant: “Yes, well. The thing is, the answer should have been … twelve.”

Minister: “What the fuck?”

Civil servant: “But it’s OK, minister, we’ve already initiated the CRAP working group, and the group has drafted a corrected answer.” [Hands draft corrected answer to minister]

Minister: “The CRAP working group?”

Permanent Secretary: “Yes, minister, the Correct, Rescind and Placate working group. It was one of Dr Cable’s ‘machinery of government’ reforms.”

Minister: “Have you informed Number Ten?”

Civil servant: “Yes, minister. That’s all part of the CRAP process. Dr Cable had to run all his cock-ups past the Prime Minister.”

Minister: “And … er, how did the PM take it? Did he sound cross? Am I in trouble?”

Permanent Secretary: “No need to worry, minister. That’s why it’s called the Correct, Rescind and Placate working group. We did a lot of placating, under the Coalition.”

Minister (reading draft corrected question): “But look, the number of paid penalties has gone up too, from four to six. That’s real progress, isn’t it?”

Civil servant: “Yes, minister.”


About wonkypolicywonk

Wonkypolicywonk is a policy minion, assigned wonky at birth, who has been lucky enough to work for two of the very best MPs in the House of Commons, and for Maternity Action, Working Families, Citizens Advice, the National Audit Office, the Law Society, and Amnesty International UK.
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