Stat of the day: 4 hours, 45 minutes

The longest Budget speech, by William Gladstone in 1853.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
In case you've been buried in that metaphorical cave on Mars and haven't checked your emails for a while, today’s the day Chancellor George Osborne delivers his first non-emergency Budget. And because we're in a celebratory mood, we thought a brief history is in order.  

The first Budget happened in the 1720s, and it’s become an annual event widely associated with taxes: Income tax was first introduced by William Pitt in the Budget of 1798.

Budget speeches vary widely in length, although in recent years they’ve tended to last approximately an hour and a half. The longest Budget speech was by William Gladstone on 18 April 1853, and lasted four hours and 45 minutes. The shortest was by Benjamin Disraeli in 1867, which lasted a mere three-quarters of an hour.   

Chancellors are also allowed to drink alcohol during the speech, which no other MP is allowed to do. During his tenure in no 11, Gordon Brown chose only natural Scottish mineral water. But judging by rumours about the difficult news Osborne is set to break today, he may favour something rather stronger...

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