But the word has come to have great significance in UK politics and is our annual fiscal review.
The first Budget appears to date back to 1733 when Britain experienced a so-called Excise Crisis. The Prime Minister at the time, Robert Walpole, planned to shift the burden of paying taxes away from the wealthy, landed gentry and on to the “consumer” or common person.
This shift would obviously have a massive impact upon the poorer citizens, having to pay duty or excise of everyday goods.
This was not best received by the opposition parties and these new excise plans were regarded with much dislike and apprehension as they were associated with the bureaucracy interfering with people’s everyday lives. And this all to the benefit of the gentry, many of which were indeed members of the House of Commons themselves!
The red briefcase, a replica of which is still in use today, used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when delivering his budget, was originally made for William Gladstone back in 1860. Gladstone served as Chancellor for a record 12 years was said to have been extremely fond of this bag, hugging it to his breast “with a kind of affectionate yearning suggesting the love of a mother for an infant”
Gladstone also holds the record for the longest budget speech in history, 4 hours and 45 minutes back in 1853. He was allegedly kept fortified by a potent mixture of sherry and raw eggs!
Interestingly The Budget Speech is the only time that alcohol is allowed into the House of Commons chamber and can only be consumed by The Chancellor whilst delivering his speech.
Back in the 1980’s the then Chancellor, Geoffrey Howe, was so taken with the delivering the financial speech that he named his dog Budget!
Robert Lowe MP, who held the position of chancellor between 1868 and 1873, famously described the role of Chancellor as such… “The chancellor of the exchequer is a man whose duties make him more or less of a taxing machine. He is entrusted with a certain amount of misery which it is his duty to distribute as fairly as he can.” Not an enviable job perhaps!
We hope that you have enjoyed this somewhat light-hearted look at what is a very serious and important date in the UK’s parliamentary calendar and we hope that this years’ budget is kind to us all!