An exchange between Sir Humphrey Appleby and the Minister of Administrative Affairs in the early 1980s highlights best the remuneration dynamics of the public service. It went something like this:
Sir Humphrey: Her Majesty’s Civil Servants spend their lives working for a modest wage and at the end they retire into obscurity.
The Minister: A modest wage? You get over £30,000 a year. Seven thousand more than I get!
Sir Humphrey: But still a relatively modest wage.
The Minister: Relative to whom?
Sir Humphrey: Well … Elizabeth Taylor for example.
The Minister: You are not relative to Elizabeth Taylor.