© Reuters. Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak presents the budget box in London
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak was accused of showing contempt for parliament after the majority of big announcements in Wednesday’s budget were reported in detail in the days and weeks running up to his statement to parliament.
Decisions worth more than 100 billion pounds for Britain’s public finances over the next five years were reported anonymously in newspapers or officially announced before Sunak delivered his budget on Wednesday, Reuters analysis showed.
“This shows complete contempt for parliament,” Labour lawmaker Chris Bryant told Reuters.
Britain’s ministerial code, the government rulebook on conduct and transparency, says that the most important announcements of policy should be made in parliament first.
The government usually makes some spending announcements before budget day, but declines to comment or speculate on tax measures in the weeks running up to the statement during a period of self-imposed ‘purdah’.
“Privileged access to information about a budget has a value, a currency especially in the markets,” Bryant said. “Purdah kept chancellors honest. This opens the door to patronage and insider dealing.”
A Treasury official said: “It is usual practice for non-market sensitive policies to be trailed ahead of the budget. A multitude of tax policies are speculated and reported on ahead of budgets. This time has been no different.”
Ten out of thirteen budget measures with a large fiscal impact were reported in advance, according to a Reuters analysis.
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