Spring Statement  

Seven Spring Statement facts

Seven Spring Statement facts
Photo: Rishi Sunak via Gov.UK

At the conclusion of 2022's Spring Statement, here are some interesting facts to whet the appetite in case the substance of the statement did not satisfy. 

1. William Gladstone holds the record for having the longest speech

Gladstone's speech in April 1853 lasted four hours and 45 minutes. Gladstone also has the record for delivering more Budget speeches than anyone, with 12 to his name. Notably, Benjamin Disraeli's speech in 1852 lasted five hours but included a break. 

2. Benjamin Disraeli holds the record for the shortest

Some 17 years after his five-hour long speech, Disraeli had no time to waste, with his speech lasting 45 minutes. Today Sunak's speech timed in around 27 minutes, but as this was a Spring Statement and not a Budget, Disraeli's time may well still be the one to beat.

3. By tradition, the chancellor, unlike ministers at the despatch box at any other time of the year, may drink alcohol during the speech if they wish

However, it is unlikely we will be seeing any alcoholic beverages this year as current chancellor Rishi Sunak is a tee-totaler - some might say he is teeing up many with promises, and totalling others' hopes and dreams.

It is likely Sunak will choose to go down the route of mineral water, though the chancellor has professed his love for coke, preferring Mexican cola over others.

Previous chancellors George Osborne, Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling chose to drink mineral water. Some other chancellor’s drinks include: Kenneth Clarke drinking whisky; Nigel Lawson’s choice of spritzer; Geoffrey Howe choosing gin and tonic; Benjamin Disraeli's tipple of a brandy/water concoction; and finally, William Gladstone sipping on sherry with beaten egg.

4. The red budget box which chancellors used to carry was in use for more than 100 years

The distinctive briefcase which symbolises ministerial briefs was in use for more than 100 years, starting with Gladstone in 1860, Lord Callagan ended the streak in 1965, using a new red box.

In July 1997, Gordon Brown also used a new box. George Osborne revitalised Gladstone’s original box in 2010 but chose to use a new one in 2011. Sunak simply carried paper documents out of Number 10 this morning. 

5. Only one chancellor has failed to deliver their speech

Iain Macleod failed to deliver his speech but he had a good excuse, due to his death soon after his appointment in 1970.

6. A woman has never been in the role

The UK has always had a man deliver the well-awaited speech. However, there have recently been females appointed to the role of shadow chancellor, including Anneliese Dodds from April 2020 to May 2021, who was replaced by incumbent Rachel Reeves. 

7. Sunak's Tax Plan is the first of its kind in recent years

Unusually, chancellor Sunak published an 8-page tax plan alongside the Spring Statement - the first such plan put out by a chancellor in recent history. As he stated, the 1p cut in the basic rate of income tax from 20p to 19p is also the first cut of its kind in more than 16 years.