BusinessCompany NewsBrown accused of burying the Budget

Brown accused of burying the Budget

Chancellor Gordon Brown has been accused of deliberately and unnecessarily delaying his Budget until after the start of the war on Iraq to 'bury' bad economic news.

Link: Brown keeps Budget day options open

Shadow Treasury minister Howard Flight dismissed claims that Brown needs to know whether the war will be fought before making key Budget decisions because the bulk of the cost would come from the Contingency Reserves.

And Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor Matthew Taylor warned that holding up the Budget for the war is in danger of causing chaos.

He said: ‘The chancellor appears to be determined to bury the budget for media management reasons.

‘But burying it behind the war and delaying into April could through the government and business into confusion.’

Flight said: ‘The real reason for the delay is that the Treasury is struggling with the problem of economic forecasts that have been and look to have been too optimistic.

‘Funding the war has nothing to do with it.’

He said the Tories will this week be tabling Commons Questions and using other parliamentary means to draw attention to what is going on.

Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor Matthew Taylor said: ‘The chancellor appears to be determined to bury the budget for media management reasons.

‘But burying it behind the war and delaying into April could throw the government and business into confusion.’

Brown can call the budget whenever he wants. The only legal constraint is the need to obtain legal sanction for continuing the annual taxes of Income Tax and Corporation Tax on or by May 5.

But delaying the Budget well into April means delaying the implementation of annual changes to personal and other allowances until mid-June or later for those on monthly salaries and could complicate the introduction of changes in tax rates.

Earlier, Commons leader Robin Cook, challenged several times by MPs over the budget date, avoided giving any undertaking it would be this month or even April, stating it had to be in the Spring.

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