By Paul Goodman
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Do you believe that being a Minister is a passport to a life of soaring pay and unending freebies?  Think again.

  • Ministers have had their pay cut by 5%, and it's to be frozen for five years.
  • Most Ministers no longer have an allocated car and driver.  The first line of the meritable Nick Herbert's interview with the Times (£) on Saturday was: "'I’ve got two jobs, one salary and no car,'” he says.  The detail was lost amid the frenzy about the Home Office Minister's remarks on gay marriage and an EU referendum, but it was a sign of the times (small t).

“The presumption for all invitations should be that they are declined. Should you feel there is an exceptional case to justify attendance it will need to be supported by a business case and to come to the Cabinet Office for approval (who in turn will liaise with DCMS).”

The recent how-de-do about chillaxing, horses and country suppers has occluded the austerity crackdown on Ministers that came in with the Coalition.

Then again, their inboxes may not exactly be groaning with invitations.  One Minister told me slightly wistfully: "No-one's actually invited me to anything, so I don't face the dilemma of deciding whether I can go or not."

But if any resent the new terms and conditions, I can do no better than remind them of the words of the old hymn –

"Not for ever in green pastures
do we ask our way to be ;
but the steep and rugged pathway
may we tread rejoicingly."

P.S: "Business case"?

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