Traditions in the House

26th February 2016 by Fiona Hotston Moore

Every year, as tax advisers, we face annual changes to the tax rules upon which we advise our clients.   I cannot think of any other profession which is subject to such a regular and overwhelming upheaval.  In effect it amounts to an annual rewriting of our technical framework.  As a result of this we spend a significant amount of time focusing on the minutiae and small print of the Chancellor’s Budget announcements to work out how the changes will impact our clients. There is, however, a lot of tradition around the Budget speech and some interesting facts.

Firstly, tradition dictates that the Chancellor may enjoy a drink whilst delivering his speech. In recent times Osborne and Darling chose Scottish spring water but Geoffrey Howe enjoyed a gin and tonic, Benjamin Disraeli had brandy and Gladstone chose sherry with a whipped egg.

The word Budget comes from the French for a bag, “bougette”.  In the past the Chancellor carried his speech to the House of Commons in a leather bag. Today’s equivalent is the red leather despatch box which the Chancellor poses with for photos on the steps of 11 Downing Street on Budget Day. Records suggest there have been four budget boxes, the first was used from 1860 to 1965, whilst the most recent was first used by Osborne in 2011.

Sir Geoffrey Howe was Chancellor from 1979 to 1983 and is remembered for a number of radical policies as well as naming his pet dog Budget.

Over the years the speeches have varied greatly in length. The longest was William Gladstone in 1853 being 4 hours 45 minutes and the shortest was Benjamin Disrael in 1867 at 45 minutes.  However the speeches have not always gone to plan. George Ward Hunt opened his case only to realise he had left his speech at home … he was in post only another six months!  Nigel Lawson was thrown mid speech and had to stop mid sentence as a result of the pages in his speech being out of order.

Perhaps the sweetest Budget was in 1953 when Chancellor Butler announced an increase in sugar rations from 10oz to 12 oz a week in order that the nation could make cakes for the Queen’s Coronation. Perhaps it is ironic that in 2016 Osborne is pondering the introduction of a sugar tax.
This years Budget is Wednesday 16th March and following tradition Ensors will be hosting our Budget Breakfasts on Friday 18th March across the region.  For more information and to secure your seat click here.




Fiona Hotston Moore

Fiona Hotston Moore

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