"It's no good, Tarquin, we can't sustain our levels of Executive Remuneration Packages for the thousands of skilled managers we need here at the BBC if we give licence discounts to the over-75s. We have to end it"
"Damn. That means inviting public responses - every charity will oppose it, as will MPs and politicians and of course the old buggers themselves. We won't get it through."
"We can, Tarquin - if we hold a Referendum!"
"Are you mad, Tony? If we ask 'Should we end free licences for the over 75s - Yes or No?' you know damn well what the answer will be"
"Ah, but we can finesse it. Ask several questions. Use first and second preference. I know some clever people who can design the thing for us so it looks fair, but will give us the 'End it' answer we want. It also has the advantage of nullifying all the 'Change' petitions and submissions from the charities - a referendum outranks everything else"
"Tony you're a genius! You deserve every hundred thou you get!"
BBC Consultation - We will do what you decide
(a) Keep free licences
(b) Abolish free licences
(c) Change free licences by (i) giving over-75s a 50% discount OR (ii) raising the age to 80 OR (iii) means testing the free licence?
Results - 84,761 responses were received
1. Keeping free licences was most commonly ranked 1st (48%) followed by Changing (37%) and Abolishing (15%)
2. Changing was most commonly ranked 2nd (55%) followed by Abolishing (25%) and Keeping (20%)
3. Abolishing was most commonly ranked 3rd (47%) followed by Keeping (30%) and Changing (23%)
When combining first and second preferences -
4. Changing was the winner with the greatest number of first and second preferences (44%)
5. Keeping the discount had the second highest total of 37% whilst Abolishing had the third highest total at 19%
It is quite clear therefore that we now have an unassailable mandate to apply means testing of free licences for the over 75s. The old folk themselves have decided.
"Tony! There's a case of Lanson on its way to you. You're a bloody miracle! Any chance these people of yours can do us a second Brexit referendum?"
(NB the central section was taken almost literatim from the BBC's reporting of its consultation outcome at http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/reports/consultation/age/traverse.pdf)