100-word briefing: the first Budget

17th December 2020

In current terms ‘The Budget is a statement made to the House of Commons by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the nation’s finances and the Government’s proposals for changes to taxation.’ So, when was the earliest one? It was certainly before 1860, when William Gladstone was using the red despatch box discarded in 2011 by George Osborne. Indeed, the national Budget predates the House of Commons (1341), going back at least 800 years to soon after the Magna Carta of 1215, when the equivalent of the Chancellor’s despatch box was a leather bag – called a ‘bougette’ in Old French.