Budget 2012: George Osborne Accused Of 'Utter Contempt' Over Press Leaks

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Labour has accused George Osborne of showing "utter contempt" for parliament by leaking much of his Budget to the newspapers before it was delivered to the Commons.

Shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie dragged Exchequer secretary David Gauke to the Commons on Thursday morning to ask him to launch an inquiry into the apparent leaks.

Osborne's third Budget held very few surprises as several of the key announcements had appeared in the press in the previous days, including the cut to the 50p tax rate, the rise in stamp duty and the rise in the income tax threshold.

Leslie said the apparent leaks were a "very serious breaches of the ministerial code" which governs the behaviour of the cabinet.

"Our constituents expect MPs should be the first to hear and question policy announcements from the chancellor," he said.

Leslie added that Osborne had treated parliament "as a peripheral afterthought" and repeated the joke that Wednesday's statement from the Chancellor was "more of a newspaper review than a Budget".

But Gauke said the days of the chancellor coming up wit ha Budget in secret were gone, especially given the government was a coalition.

He said there had been at least five different versions of what was going to happen to the 50p tax rate and therefore it was "not surprising that one of them turned out to be correct".

And he accused Labour of hypocrisy given the number of leaks that came out of the Treasury during their period in power.

"In the 2005 budget there was a leak about tax credit increases, about alcohol duties, about fuel duty, inheritance tax, stamp duty, council tax refunds and winter fuel allowance," he said.

And Labour was accused of further hypocrisy by announcing on Twitter the fact there would be an Urgent Question in the Commons before it had been formally agreed to by the Speaker.


Labour Press Team
Urgent Question in the House this morning calling for a Budget leak inquiry

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