Tomorrow’s Budget…

budget-300x180Tomorrow sees the Budget (although we seem to know everything about it already).  Whilst readers wait for the actual day, I thought some trivia might be of interest:

The word “Budget” comes from the French ‘‘bougette’‘, meaning a little bag, which explains why the Chancellor ‘‘opens’’ his budget.

The original scarlet briefcase was made for Gladstone in 1860 and was used by every Chancellor until after the 1997 general election when Gordon Brown had a new one made.

When Norman Lamont was Chancellor in the early 1990s, the bag which was waved at photographers outside No 11 contained a bottle of whisky, while the speech itself was carried in a plastic bag by his aide.

The longest Budget speech was four hours 45 minutes by Gladstone in 1853, the shortest budget was by Disraeli in 1867 at 45 minutes. Only one Chancellor has failed to deliver a Budget, Tory Iain Macleod, who died in 1970 shortly after his appointment.

When George Ward Hunt arrived at the Commons in 1869 and opened the Budget Box he found, to his horror, that he had left his speech at home. (Hunt, at 21 stone, was the largest Chancellor on record).

Conservative MP David Heathcoat-Amory was responsible for one of the best Budget one-liners: ‘‘There are three things not worth running for – a bus, a woman or a new economic panacea. If you wait a bit, another one will come along.’’


John Major’s one and only Budget in 1990 was the first to be televised live.

Sir Geoffrey Howe, Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1979-1983, named his dog Budget.

In his 1953 Budget Chancellor RA Butler announced that the sugar ration would be increased from 10oz to 12oz a week to help the nation make celebratory cakes for the Queen’s Coronation that year (perhaps we’ll have something similar to mark the Diamond Jubilee?)

A Chancellor delivering his Budget is the only MP allowed to take alcohol in the chamber; here’s what some of them drank while delivering Budgets: Winston Churchill was a brandy man, while Hugh Dalton relied on milk and rum. Selwyn Lloyd supped whisky and water, while Hugh Gaitskell relied on orange juice with a dash of rum but Rab Butler, Harold Macmillan and Peter Thorneycroft made do with water from the tap.

Harold Macmillan once described Budget Day as ‘‘rather like a school speech day – a bit of a bore, but there it is’‘.

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