Before I call the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it may be for the convenience of hon. Members if I remind them that at the end of the Chancellor's speech, as in past years, copies of the Budget resolutions will not be handed around in the Chamber but will be available to hon. Members in the Vote Office.
I am reliably informed that my Budget speech last year was the shortest this century. My Budget speech this year is likely to have a different claim to a place in the history books — not, the House will be glad to learn, as the longest Budget speech this century, but as the last untelevised Budget speech.
As I once again present the first Budget of a new Parliament, the British economy is stronger than at any time since the war. As the British people recognised last June, this has not happened by chance. It has happened because, for almost nine years now, we have followed the right policies and stuck to them. I reaffirm those policies today. In particular, there will be no letting up in our determination to defeat inflation.
I shall begin, as usual, with the economic background to the Budget. I shall then deal with monetary policy, and with the public finances this year and next, and indeed for the remainder of this Parliament. Finally, I shall propose a number of measures designed to improve the performance of the economy still further, by changing the structure of taxation. For this will be a tax reform Budget.
As usual, the Financial Statement and Budget Report, together with a number of press releases filling out the details of my tax proposals, will be available from the Vote Office as soon as I have sat down.