Effective immediately, the following Government economising measures are being implemented in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" subsidiary:
1) The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree, which never produced the cash crop forecaster, will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance. David Cameron
2) Two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are, therefore, eliminated. Duncan Smith
3) The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French. Nick Clegg
4) The four calling birds will be replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked. Liam Fox
5) The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals, as well as a mix of high technology stocks, appear to be in order. William Hague
6) The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day was an example of the general decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that, from now on, every goose it gets will be a good one. George Osborne
7) The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes, thereby enhancing their outplacement. Jeremy Hunt
8) As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring or a-mulching. Caroline Spelman
9) Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps. Theresa May
10) Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords, plus the expense of international air travel, prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work politicians. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant as we expect an oversupply of unemployed politicians this year. Kenneth Clarke
11) Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms, will produce savings which will drop right to the bottom line. Danny Alexander
Overall we can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and related expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.
Regarding the lawsuit filed by the Lawyer's Association seeking expansion to include the legal profession ("thirteen lawyers-a-suing"), a decision is pending.
Deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to remain competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinise the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the right number.