Former Chief Secretary David Law's diaries are featured in today's Mail on Sunday.
The reply of the civil service was glorious: cutting first class travel would mean that the taxpayer subsidy to the train operating companies would have to go up!!! An ingenious response indeed.
You can read the story below:
"In a meeting with Treasury civil servants I threw in a few ideas of my own. Why should civil servants continue to take first-class travel, I asked, when MPs were now more or less banned from doing so?"
One civil servant said:
"But Chief Secretary, the revenue from first-class ticket sales goes to the train-operating companies, under their contracts. So if there were fewer first-class ticket sales, and the revenue fell, it might simply mean greater subsidy payments to the train operators to make up the difference. That would therefore save the Exchequer little or nothing. It could turn out not to be a real economy at all, Chief Secretary'."
It was an ingenious defence, worthy of Sir Humphrey Appleby, but not one I was prepared to accept. Yet I found that this savings proposal somehow always seemed to fall off the list of agreed cuts".
It is an even better response than that of our most senior Civil Servant, Sir Gus O'Donnell, justifying - to the Public Administration Select Committee - the many millions that the Civil Service spends on management conferences (because Microsoft also have loads of conferences!).