Friday, November 10, 2006

HM Treasury Goes To Pot


HMT's nice little billet


Frankly I'm shocked.

No, really, I'm shocked.

We've just learned that last year alone, HM Treasury spent £14,000 of taxpayers money on pot plants. HMT! The guardian of the public purse since well before Gladstone.

They also spent £2m on travel for Gordo and his staff, including £755,000 on planet destroying airmiles.

Not to mention an extraordinary £173,599 on "cancelled conferences" for HMRC - how many cancelled conferences did they have for God's sake?

I can't help but reflect yet again how far HMT has fallen under Brown.

When I were a lad toiling at those high ancient desks, we worked by guttering candlelight, scratching out the public accounts on the backs of surplus departmental circulars with quill pens. The hacking coughs of consumptive Assistant Secretaries echoed through the fetid...

Well, OK, maybe not quite that. But the conditions were pretty spartan- lino on the floors, so cold you had to wear a thick jumper, and a canteen menu comprising just pork pie or curried eggs (a hangover from the War which I have never encountered anywhere else before or since). The only pot plants were those brought from home, which soon died on the permafrost.

But we were happy you see. Because we knew we were doing God's work- saving money for taxpayers. We were the roundheads fending off the wild cavalier urges of all those high-spending politicos.

And Brown inherited a Treasury that still broadly operated along the same lines. Yes, the public spending taps had been opened a notch under Clarke, but not imprudently. The restraint, the lino, and the cold of Great George St all remained firmly in place.

How things have changed now. Along with the biggest public spending splurge since that bloke who built the Pyramids, the old HMT has been swept away. Not only have they moved into a new atrium style open plan office (the old CSO building- pic above- refurbed at a PFI cost of £170m), but the whole operation has clearly undergone a psychology transplant.

Of course, the money's now run out. Once again, a socialist government has spent every last farthing and will leave us with a huge pile of debt. But this time, Bank independence means it can no longer be simply inflated away and will therefore hang round taxpayers' necks for years to come.

How will the new-style high spending HMT cope? Other that is, than simply racking up our taxes even more.

I have a very bad feeling about this. Better break out the thick jumpers now.

PS The figures also revealed HMT spent £178,000 on taxis. Pretty appalling, but according to my records, some way down the League Table of Public Sector Taxi Infamy:

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