Lucinda Newell – The Super Sleuthing Property Rental Expert – One Woman and Her Dog
To be seen pottering along the highways and byways of Luton in her Mini Clubman, her trusted Scottie Malcolm at her side, our super sleuthing property rental expert Ms Lucinda Newell is on the case on your behalf!
March 22nd will see the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, deliver his Budget speech to Parliament and the nation and, whilst I am not expecting there to be any major radical announcements, it did set me thinking about the origins of the Exchequer and of Budget Day.
We tend to think of Budget Day as a day on which new tax laws are announced and I’m sure everyone is familiar with the expression that nothing in life is certain, except death and taxes. I decided to seek out the origin of this expression.
It turns out that several famous authors have uttered lines to this effect. The first was Daniel Defoe, in The Political History of the Devil, 1726:
"Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed."
Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) used the expression we are currently more familiar with, in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789, which was re-printed in The Works of Benjamin Franklin, 1817:
"'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
The origins of the Exchequer go back even earlier to the days of the Normans (1066-1154). The Norman system included both a Treasury and an Exchequer. The word 'exchequer' comes from the Latin 'scaccarium', meaning a chessboard. The name was given to the court dealing with the King’s finances because counters were moved on a square table to represent different amounts of spending.
The first annual budgets, as we would know them today, date back to the 1720s and Sir Robert Walpole. Income tax was first introduced in the 1798 Budget by William Pitt.
Since May 1997 the Treasury presents two economic forecasts per year. In the spring the Chancellor presents the Budget, and in the autumn, the Pre-Budget Report (PBR) is released, often called the Autumn Statement.
The Budget is famous for the Budget box which is the red, leather-covered box containing the Budget speech. Traditionally the Chancellor is photographed on Budget day on the steps of 11 Downing Street holding up the Budget box.
The Budget box or 'Gladstone box' was used to carry the Chancellor's speech from Number 11 to the House for over one hundred consecutive years. The wooden box was hand-crafted for William Ewart Gladstone, lined in black satin and covered in scarlet leather. Lord Callaghan was the first Chancellor to break with tradition in 1965 when he used a newer box.
In July 1997, Gordon Brown became the second Chancellor to use a new box for the Budget. It was made by industrial trainees at Babcock Rosyth Defence Ltd ship and submarine dockyard in Fife. The new box is made of yellow pine, with a brass handle and lock, covered in scarlet leather and embossed with the Royal initials and crest and the Chancellor's title.
Since 1900 a number of Chancellor of the Exchequers have also become Prime Minsters including:
• Lloyd George (seven budgets from 1909 to 1915)
• Winston Churchill (five budgets from 1925 to 1929)
• Neville Chamberlain (six from 1932 to 1937)
• James Callaghan (three from 1965 to 1967)
• John Major (one in 1990)
• Gordon Brown (a record eleven consecutive budgets from 1997 to 2007)
A unique Budget tradition is that Chancellors are allowed to drink alcohol during their Budget speech - no other Member of Parliament is allowed to do this, no matter how much they wish to!
William Gladstone drank sherry and beaten egg during his budget speech in 1853. I can only assume this was to help sustain him because he spoke for four hours!
Benjamin Disraeli drank brandy and water whilst later on, Kenneth Clarke chose whisky, Geoffrey Howe (whose pet dog was called Budget) chose gin and tonic and Nigel Lawson chose a spritzer.
Gordon Brown chose natural Scottish mineral water and his successors Alistair Darling and George Osborne have also drunk water.
For many of us, listening and digesting the Budget often requires something stronger than a glass of water. I just hope that we can all still afford a little tipple after this year’s announcements on 22nd March!
Come on Malcolm - Walkies!