One of the refreshing features of the early years of the Blair governments was the determination to make Parliament operate abit more like the rest of us. This reforming zeal led to many changes, one of the most welcome of which was that key events such as the Budget and the Queen's Speech were announced months in advance so that everybody could plan for them.
I remember for years trying to plan issues of Post Magazine around the uncertainty of when the Budget would be. Frequently, the date was announced only a couple of weeks in advance, meaning that I often had to shift great chunks of editorial from one issue to another at short notice. There never seemed to be a good reason why the Treasury felt it had to play this game of cat and mouse so it was refreshing to find that you could come back after Christmas with the date of the Budget (sometime in March) already firmly in the diary.
All of that has gone out of the window and we are right back at square one. Here we are on 22 February and the Treasury still hasn't announced the date of the Budget. The top bets are on Wednesday 21 March, only because that is virtually the last day it could be if the Finance Bill is to be published before Easter. With 30-40 pages of the bill predicted to deal with specific measures relating to the taxation of insurance it will be a busy Easter for the industry's tax experts.
But why are they left guessing on how to plan their time to deal with that? It doesn't seem very professional.
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