So, when he asked the canteen at HM Treasury to send up a fish-and-chips lunch for himself, Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, and four aides, he was astonished to be told that it would cost £148.58.
A quick phone call from Mr Osborne established that if the men who run Britain’s economy descended two flights of stairs, they could eat the same lunch in the canteen with pudding and a fruit drink at a cost of just £32.88 for all six.
Determined not to pay the extra £115 charge allowed under a Private Finance Initiative scheme introduced by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor, Mr Osborne declared: ‘We will eat in the canteen.’
Accompanied by Mr King and their four advisers, Mr Osborne then walked down the stairs in the Whitehall building and sat at a Formica table with his lunch guests after lining up in the self-service queue and paying the bill with his own money.
Such a wonderful thing, PFI, eh?