In an imaginative scheme to solve the twin problems of Prison overcrowing and the difficulties arising from the reduction of the police force, Ken Clarke has blustered in with a scheme he dreamt up during his latest trip to Ronnie Scott's.
He wants early release for suitable prisoners who would then become volunteer policemen. 'We save money in two ways. Lower prison numbers means fewer prisons - volunteer policemen means the cut in the Police budget does not lead to a rise in crime. In fact, the experience of thse old lags will enable the police to sort out numerous robberies.'
Ken has received a sceptical response from some Cabinet colleagues. 'Wouldn't the volunteer ex-prisoners simply use their position to commit more crimes' queried the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, in thoughtful mood.
'No, of course not' replied Ken 'the discipline of the police will do them good and there will be a carrot, in fact several carrots, to encourage fair play. Every crime solved would mean one year less for the ex-prisoners next crime.'
Chancellor George Osborne is keen on Ken's idea. 'It will save millions' he said 'we can put off the big tax increases for a year or so.'
I am told by my insider at the Cabinet table that this statement was received with some trepidation by Lib Dems in the Cabinet. 'No one's going to vote for us' whined Vince Cable 'if we put taxes up any more. What will become of us at the next election?'
'That's alright' chimed George 'we won't be able to afford another election so we will just have to stay in power.'