MPs demand early notice of Budget date

Link: Pre-Budget 2002

The House of Commons Treasury Committee also wants a full debate lasting at least half a day – or preferably a full Parliamentary day – on his pre-Budget Report.

Today it said that Gordon Brown’s economic growth forecasts over the next three years were, on balance, ‘on the downside’.

The committee highlighted imbalances in the economy which could jeopardise Treasury predictions – notably ‘unsustainable’ levels of house price inflation.

It suggests that the Treasury and the Bank of England should undertake a review of the current inflation target of 2.5% set by Brown when he gave the Bank the power to set interest rates, independent of government.

The committee noted that ‘the chancellor had sufficient scope to allow borrowing by the exchequer to overshoot his 2002 Budget projections, given the low level of overall public debt and the current state of the economy’.

But the MPs call for a review of Brown’s fiscal rules and clarification of whether he intends to limit the level of public deficit to 3% as stated in the European Communities Treaty.

The Committee concludes: ‘Traditionally, the announcement of the date of the Budget has been subject to considerable speculation and interest, as there is no fixed date for the Chancellor to make his Budget statement.

‘In the interests of openness, it is therefore important for the Chancellor to announce the date of the Budget statement as far in advance as possible.

‘For the 2002 Budget the Chancellor gave almost three months notice of the date of the Budget, a move which we welcome.

‘It would be helpful for the Chancellor to announce the date of the Budget as far in advance as possible (at least two months).’

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