George Osborne told the story at yesterday’s press lunch about how he tried to buy a Treasury Christmas tree for £40 – after learning his predecessor had paid about £900 last year – but became embroiled in a struggle with a PFI contractor.
Here is the relevant memo:
MEMO: HM Treasury Christmas Tree
To: CX Office
Some facts below about the Christmas Tree.
- We normally get our Christmas Tree from Exchequer Partnerships, our building supplier; as part of our PFI deal.
- The catalogue had a choice of “Hollyday”, “Indulgence”, “Enchantment”, “Icicle”, or “Decadence” trees, or bespoke tailor made trees, from £130-875.
- The tree we last year would have cost £875, for a 13 foot tree, which arrives dressed.
- We spoke to EP about whether we couldn’t buy a tree from B&Q for £40 instead of spending £900.
- They were concerned about:
Who would go and choose the tree from B&Q? How would we get the tree into the building from B&Q? Who would dispose of the tree after Christmas, and how would we do this? Wouldn’t we need a van? And a place to dump it? Who would water the tree if needed? Who would provide the stand for the tree? Who would get the decorations? How would we decorate the tree – EP are not obliged to lend us a ladder. Who would turn the lights on and off each evening?
EP are not contracted to do any of these things for an off contract tree.
- They also pointed out that they might have to do various health and safety tests on the tree and its decorations, which they would need to charge us for.
- Health and Safety tests might have been done:
If we were using a ladder to decorate the tree To test the safety of the lights and any trailing cables