Want to save money? Ditch the Queen

Sell off the Queen’s swans. Make
lawmakers work for free. Force prison inmates to generate cheap power on the

As Britain’s government decides how
to make the toughest spending cuts in decades, it has asked the public for
help. The result? A list of wild ideas on how to save money — proposals that
Treasury chief George Osborne insists will be seriously considered as he draws
up a five-year austerity plan.

Osborne wants to save $44 billion
per year to quickly reduce Britain’s huge national debts, racked up as the
previous government bailed out banks and launched stimulus programs during the
global financial crisis.

than 45,000 ideas for savings have been posted on the Treasury’s website by
members of the public and government workers. They range from the deliberately
extreme — scrapping Britain’s monarchy, to the seemingly sensible — have staff
book hotels online, not through expensive travel brokers.

asked everyone across the country — the people who use our schools, hospitals,
transport systems and other public services — to send in their ideas for how to
save public money and get more out of our services,” said a Treasury
spokeswoman, on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

edgier ideas are plans to put Britain’s population of almost 100,000 prisoners
to work.

suggestion calls for convicts to cook meals for public hospitals or government-run
care homes for the elderly. A wackier plan demands treadmills and rowing
machines in prison gyms to be adapted to produce power for the national
electricity grid.

offerings propose lining the roofs of government buildings — including
Parliament — with vegetable gardens and selling the produce at a profit. One
submission suggested asking the Queen to sell off her swans for meat.

Contributors to the website say that doesn’t go far enough — calling for Queen
Elizabeth II either to step down, or drastically reduce the number of her
family members who receive public money. “The French have not had a
monarchy for more than 200 years and tourists still flock to Versailles,”
one of the ideas posted on the Treasury site reads.

submissions call for the U.K. to share its plush — and costly — overseas
embassies with its allies, sharply cutting the costs of the diplomatic service.