Yes Minister (1980) s01e03 Episode Script

The Economy Drive

- You've read it? - I've read it.
- Have you read this? - He's read it.
- Let me read it to you! - We've read it.
"Let's get rid fo Jim Hacker", by John Pilgrim.
The Right Honourable Jim Jacker, promised to slim down the Civil Service, and to wipe out the interference from the Whitehall and Town Hall busybodies.
But howmany people realise that more people serve in the Inland Revenue than the Royal Navy? - Is it true? - I believe it is, Minister.
- "Perhaps a tax is the best defence".
- Oh, that's ratherwitty.
- And have you read this bit? - I have read it.
"No less than fourministries check the supply of the same army uniforms.
Defence checks to see they get what they ordered.
Industry checks to see they are manufactured as perregulations.
The Treasury checks the bills.
And Jim Hacker's mob checks up on everyone else.
Jim Hacker is the most obvious case of overmanning in Whitehall.
Let's get rid ofhim and save at least one salary".
Frank, why did you read me that? I told you I'd read it.
Because I'm yourpolitical advisor.
This is politically damaging foryou.
Good morning, Minister.
- Have you read this? - Yes! Yes! Yes! I have read it! You have read it, he has read it! We have all bloody read it, do I make myself clear? Abundantly, Minister.
I'm sorry.
Sit down.
Humphrey, we have got to slim down the Civil Service.
Howmany people have we got in this department? This department? Oh, we're very small.
Small? How small? I don't know 2.
000? 3.
000? Um about 23.
000, I think, Minister.
23.
000? In Administrative Affairs? 23.
000 people just administering otheradministrators? We'll have to do a study to see who we can get rid of.
- We did one of those last year.
- And? It transpired we needed another500 people.
However, we could always close your Bureaucratic Watchdog Office.
No.
It's the one thing I've done since I got here.
But it has been criticised as a trouble maker's letterbox.
I know.
It's very popularwith the voters.
They help us find ways to stop wasting government money.
We are the experts about wasting government money That's not what I meant.
Well, the Bureaucratic Watchdog Office stays.
Well, offhand I can't think of what else to suggest.
Are you seriously telling me there is no way we can cut down? I suppose we could lose one ortwo of the tea ladies.
Oh, Humphrey, I do wish you'd take this seriously.
Tea ladies! I want the facts.
I want to knowwho works here, what they do, what buildings we have, what goes on in them.
Then we'll knowwhere to cut costs, cut staff, cut procedures The Civil Service, Minister, exists to implement legislation enacted by Parliament.
As long as Parliament continues to legislate, the Civil Service However, I am fully seized of yourrequirements, and I'll go and set the wheels in motion.
Thank you.
- Good morning, Mr.
Weasel.
- Weisel.
Did you know that a Regional Controller has achieved cuts of 32 million in his region alone? And that the Civil Service is suppressing the story? - Is it true? - If it is, I'm aghast! - Why? - Lfhe can save, everyone else can.
Why don't you look into it, have a bit of a ferret around? Do you think I could? I think that's a very good idea, Mr.
Ferret erWeasel.
- He told you 32 million pounds? - Yes, Sir Humphrey.
- I'm aghast! - So I was.
It's incredible we didn't know about it.
- I knew about it.
- Then why are you aghast? I'm aghast that it got out.
We'll get less money from the Treasury next year.
Oh, it's afterhalf past five.
Sherry? Oh, er, yes.
Thank you.
- You still look worried, Bernard.
- Well yes.
I mean, surely we want to save money.
You knowperfectly well there has to be some way to measure success in the Civil Service.
British Leyland measure theirsuccess by the size of theirprofits, or, to be more accurate, they measure theirfailure by the size of their losses.
We don't have profits and losses.
We have to measure oursuccess by the size of ourstaff and ourbudget.
By definition, Bernard, a big department is more successful.
Are you saying that the Regional Controller boobed by saving so much money? Well, of course.
Nobody asked him to.
Suppose everybody did it! Suppose everyone went around saving money irresponsibly all overthe place.
That's what the Ministerwants, isn't it? Do sit down, Bernard.
Ministers come and Ministers go.
The average Minister lasts less than 11 months in any department.
You see, Bernard, it is ourduty to assist the Minister to fight forthe Department's money despite his own panic reactions.
You mean help him overcome his panic.
No.
No.
No.
No, we must let him panic.
Politicians like to panic.
They need activity.
It's theirsubstitute forachievement.
We must just ensure that it doesn't change anything.
But they are the people's representatives, democratically chosen.
MP's aren't chosen by the people, but by their local party.
35 men in grubby raincoats or35 women in silly hats.
But the government are selected from the best of them.
Bernard, there are only 630 MP's.
If one partyhas just over300 it forms a government.
Of that 300, one hundred are too old and too silly, one hundred too young and too callow which leaves just about a hundred MP's to fill one hundred gobernmental posts.
There's no choice al all.
They've had no selection, no training.
We have to do the job forthem.
But how can we explain saving 32 million to the Minister? We can explain they've changed theiraccounting systems.
Orthat they've redrawn the regional boundaries so that the current figures aren't operable.
There are all sorts of possibilities.
I see.
Useful chat, Bernard, good job it nevertook place.
Yes.
Yes.
Of course.
So what else is ourfriend Weasel up to? Oh, he's ferretting.
Ferretting? Where? It's a roving brief.
Then we shall have to provide Rover with a government car.
So thatwe'll know where he's digging.
How how are you getting on with your Minister, Humpy? Got this economising nosense undercontrol? Yes, I think so, Jumbo more o less.
- What do you mean more or less? - Well yes and no.
Presumably it's like all the other government economy drives? Three days of press releases, three weeks of memos, a crisis in the Middle East and back to normal? This one's slightly different.
He's beginning to see slimming down the Service as his main task.
Dammit, we don't need slimming! I think you might have to conduct anotherOperation HairShirt.
Operation HairShirt.
What a good idea.
Guide him towards painful personal economies.
Yes, you know.
"Economy begins at home, Minister".
"Set an example, Minister".
"Can't expect others to do what we can't do ourselves, Minister".
Yes, yes.
Just what he needs, self denial.
Splendid.
Right.
Item 3.
The economy drive.
Frank has come up with some startling indications of wastage in ourvery midst.
- Has he really? - You'll be surprised.
These facts are a frightening indictment ofbureaucratic sloppiness and self indulgence.
Dear, dear.
But as you'll see, they do give us enormous scope forsome really dramatic economies.
Good show! Now, I have here two files: One on manpower, one on buildings.
Let's startwith the buildings.
Chadwick House, West Audley Street.
- A handful of people working there.
- Yes, 20 I do happen to know about Chadwick House.
- What do you know? - It's underused, but it is the office forthe new Commission forthe Environment.
We're wondering if it's going to be big enough forall the staff.
O.
K.
What about Ladysmith Buildings, Walthamstow.
- Apparently that's empty.
- Of course.
- What do you mean, of course? - Security, I can say no more.
Do you mean Ml6? What's that supposed to mean? We do not admit that Ml6 exists.
- Everybody knows it exists.
- Nevertheless, we do not admit it.
Not everyone round this table has been vetted.
I thought thatwas something you do cats.
Yes, indeed.
But not ferrets, Minister.
Ladysmith House is top secret.
How can a seven storey building in Walthamstowbe top secret? Where there's a will there's a way.
What about Wellington House and WestminsterOld Hall? Wellington House, Hyde Park Road, estimated value 7.
5 million pounds.
WestminsterOld Hall, Sackville Square, estimated value 11 million pounds.
Each building with a tiny staff, and both filled entirely with filing cabinets.
- The source of these valuations? - Going rate forproperty.
But neitherof them would fetch the going rate.
Wellington House has no fire escape orfire doors and the building wouldn't stand the alteration.
- It can't be used as offices.
- How are you able to use them? Government buildings do not require fire safety clearance.
Why not? Well, perhaps because Her Majesty's Civil Servants are not easily inflamed.
What about WestminsterOld Hall? Class one Registered Building.
Can't change current userdesignation.
I see.
3 to 17 Beaconsfield Street? Ah, yes.
Now, that has a three level reinforced concrete basement.
So? It is there in case.
In case? Well, you know, Minister.
Emergency Government Headquarters, if and when.
If and when what? If and when you knowwhat.
- What? - If and when you knowwhat.
I don't knowwhat.
What? What do you mean, if and when you knowwhat? When the chips are down, the balloon goes up and the lights go out There has to be somewhere to carry on government, even if everything else stops.
Why? Government doesn't stop just because the whole country's been destroyed.
Annihilation's bad enough, without anarchy to make things even worse.
You mean you'd have a lot of rebellions cinders? Who would be there foryou to govern? Well, there're bound to be some ordinary people around.
- What about Central Registry? - No planning permission.
How does he know all this? You knewwhere I'd been.
Obviously we knew where he'd been.
Was he supposed to be spying? We do believe in open enquiries, don'twe? Let us turn to manpower.
Yes, let's! Aparently there are 90 Civil Servants in Sunderland duplicating the work of 90 more here in Whitehall.
That stems from a Cabinet decision.
- Job creation in the North East.
- Let's get rid of them.
We'd get rid of 90 Civil Servants at a stroke.
Yes, or indeed, at a strike.
Yes.
¿What? I would be wholeheartedly in favourof such a move.
Itwould be a splendid economy.
And show great political courage to sack staff in depressed marginal constituencies.
There is nowhere we can cut down.
- I see waste everywhere.
- I agree with you, Minister.
- There is scope foreconomy - Well, where? Well.
I sometimes feel that the very way we do things is on too lavish a scale.
You know, cars, furnishings entertainments, private office staff - Duplicating machines - Yes.
Yes.
Yes.
Fine.
Yes.
That's where we'll start.
- Unfortunately there is a difficulty.
- I knew it! It does cause profound resentment if those at the top continue to enjoy the comforts they withdraw from those below them, not to mention the deeply damaging publicity You mean you and I should Set a personal example? Economy begins at home? We can't expect others to do whatwe don't do ourselves, can we? - Would it really save all that much? - Well, not directly, no.
But, as an example to the whole public service incalculable.
Well, I don't know Jim, there'd be a lot of great publicity in it: "The Ministershows the way".
"Slimline Government".
"Hackersets an example".
"Save it" says Jim.
Yes.
Yes, that's it.
Great, where do we start? - Oh! Turn the - Sorry.
Were you asleep? Yes.
I missed my train.
Had to walk all the way to Euston.
- And the chauffeurdriven car? - Got rid of it.
Got rid of the chauffeurtoo, and all that office furniture, drinks cabinet, half the staff in my private office.
- You've been sacked.
- No, no - Then why? - It's an economy drive.
I'm setting an example.
No luxuries, no frills, no privileges You're mad For 20 years you've complained you had no facilities.
- Now you're throwing them away.
- But, darling 20 years you've wanted to be a success.
Why, if it brings no greater comfort than failure? You don't really understand politics.
This way it's going to bring me much more power in the end.
And how are you going to travel when you are Prime Minister.
Hitch hike? - Bernard, ourdiary session.
- As soon as I've done this typing.
- Can't you get? - Not really, it's ratherurgent.
And since the cutbacks there's just the two of us.
Well, I must talk to you.
- Mandy! Mandy! - Yes? Where's W? Top left.
Bernard! Come in here! Now! I was double booked this morning.
I was late forthat thing.
- What thing? - The Business Efficiency Exhibition! I do apologise, but whatwith the staff economies in yourprivate office, it is awfully difficult to keep track.
- What's happening this afternoon? - I'll get the diary.
Not now, dear! Not now! - Morning, duck.
- Do you have to do that now? Yes.
Yes.
They've cancelled the night shift.
Some idiot's started another of those economy drives.
- I'm Nellie.
- Good.
Well, the point is Who are you? I'm the Minister.
Oh, really? Oh, I'm everso pleased to meet you.
I voted foryou.
Oh, good.
Thank you.
You can call me Nellie.
Thank you.
- What do I call you? - Er Jim.
Here's the diary, Minister.
Right.
Turn that off, would you, dear? Turn it Nellie! What? Would you excuse us? This is confidential.
I've got to get on you know, Jim.
So have I.
Jim? Well, I won't use the hoover.
I'll tiptoe, you'll nevernotice me.
- Go please.
- I'm light as a feather.
Go! Now! All right, Jim.
I can take a hint.
It's just Mr.
Brough this morning, our Directorof Manpower Planning.
- Brough? - Yes, staff reductions.
- Oh, yes.
- And then straight to the House.
At 8 o'clock the French Prime Minister's reception at his Embassy.
I must take the schedules down to the Whips Office.
- Bernard - Yes, Minister? It is worth it, you know Centre page spread and three pictures.
Yes, I have read it, Minister.
See this one of me, with a cheese roll on a cardboard plate? "No luxury lunches in Hacker's new austerity regime".
"Economy begins at home" said Jim Hackertoday, as he set an example to Britain's pampered army ofbowlerhatted bureaucrats".
- Terrific, isn't it? - You have read it to me already.
- Great, isn't it? - Yes, Minister.
Economise on the beaches - Excuse me.
- Yes? Yes? - I'd like to see the Minister.
- Do you have an appointment? Ron Watson, General Secretary of the Union of Civil Service Transport Workers.
- Yes, Mr.
Watson.
- We're disturbed about rumours of redundancies affecting ourmembers I'm sorry, you must have an appointment.
- Phone me tomorrow.
- Why can't I arrange it now? - I'm sorry.
- Oh, really! Mandy, make an appointment for Mr.
Watson fornextweek.
Nextweek? Hello Mr.
Brough.
Yes, we're expecting Mr.
Brough now.
When's it due in at Euston? We'll just have to cancel it fortoday then.
Yes, yes, I'll tell him.
Goodbye.
Sorry to keep you.
Now, about yourappointment.
When would be convenient - The meeting's cancelled then? - Yes.
- So I can see him now? - I'm afraid not, you see Would you excuse me just a moment? Yes? No.
He's not here.
He's gone overto the Whips Office.
Would you like the extension? Ah, Mr Brough? Mr.
Brough's had to cancel the meeting.
My name's Ron Watson.
I'm I'm glad you could get here instead.
- Do sit down, won't you.
- Oh, thank you.
Now, Mr.
Er Watson.
Before we start there's one thing I must make absolutely clear.
This must not get out.
If the unions were to get to hearof this all hell would be let loose.
Oh, yes.
Of course there'll be redundancies.
You simply You simply can't slim down a giant bureaucracy like this without getting rid of people.
Ultimately, a lot of people.
Won't you be holding discussions with the Unions first? We'll go through the charade of discussions, but you know what Trade Unionists are like; thick as two short planks and bloody minded.
All of them? Pretty well.
Good lord, you should know.
They're interested in poaching each other's members and they can't keep theirbig mouths shut.
What about drivers and transport service staff? First to go.
We waste a fortuna on cars and drivers.
- And they're all on the fiddle.
- Oh, I see.
Because, as I was trying to explain, I'm not Mr.
Brough's deputy.
I'm the General Secretary of the Union of Civil Service Transport and Associated Government Workers.
Ah.
I I came here to check there was no truth in the rumours of redundancies formy members.
Well I I All I meantwas Oh, God.
He quotes me, word forword: "Of course there will be redundancies.
Lots!" I'm most terribly sorry.
- Are all the drivers on strike? - 100 % response.
How could you allow this to happen? C.
B.
E.
, Minister.
C.
B.
E? Can't be everywhere.
Of course, in normal circumstances Yes.
Yes.
I know, I know.
You and Mrs.
Hackerare due at the French Embassy at 8.
Oh, yes.
Get me the car, will you? Oh Betterring Mrs.
Hacker, ask herto bring ourcar into town.
Mrs.
Hackersays she has to drop it off at the garage.
She'll have to do that tomorrow.
It'll get us as faras Kensington.
At least there are no problems about that.
Annie, it's no good.
We'll have to walk.
- Have you got the umbrella? - No, haven't you? Terrific.
- You're going the wrong way.
- I'm not, I'm going home.
Annie! I think I've found what's wrong.
I know I have! Oui, Monsieur? Her Majesty's Minister forAdministrative Affairs.
My carbroke down.
Mr.
Hacker, you look as if you need some champagne.
I do.
Lots! Mr.
Hacker? Hello.
Thanks, mate.
Gutterpress! All right, what do they say? "Mr.
Economyfalls down in gutter afterchampagne party".
- Oh, my God! - This one is better.
"Hackertired and emotional after Embassy reception".
- Is that better? - It's different.
Do any of them say anything other than "tired and emotional"? William Hickey said you were overwrought, Minister.
- Nothing about being drunk? - Just "overwrought".
"Overwrought as a newt", actually.
It couldn't really be any worse.
I don'twant to depress you but there is just this lead story in The Times.
It is worse! "Hackerrecruit 400 new Civil Servants in, quote, "economy drive"! - 400 more Civil Servants? - You asked forthem.
You demanded a complete study, facts and figures.
These measures cannot be taken with non people.
If you create more jobs, more people have to be employed.
It's common sense.
If you persistwith the Bureaucratic Watchdog Office, there'll be another400 new jobs there as well.
- What are we going to do? - Well, Minister If we were to end the economy drive and close the Bureaucratic Watchdog Office, we could issue a press announcement that you'd axed 800 jobs.
Now, if you'd care to glance at this draft proposal But nobody's doing those jobs.
An even greatereconomy, we've saved 800 redundancy payments.
But that's phoney, it's cheating it's dishonest, it's just pulling the wool overpeople's eyes.
A Government Press release, in fact.
But what are we actually going to do slim down the Civil Service? Perhaps you'd care to glance at this entirely fresh proposal.
"Proposal for the Reduction of the Number of Tea Ladies".