Battered Budget box will be retired
Published 18/06/2010 | 14:21
The famous battered red budget box first used by William Gladstone will be retired after next week's Budget, the National Archives said.
George Osborne will be the final chancellor to hold up the 150-year-old scarlet briefcase outside Number 11 Downing Street.
The box, which is classed as a public record, was made for Gladstone in 1860 and has been used by every chancellor since apart from James Callaghan and Gordon Brown.
But experts at the National Archives have decided it is now so fragile that it must be taken out of use after Mr Osborne's emergency Budget on Tuesday so it can be preserved for future generations.
Gladstone, who served a record 12 years as chancellor, was said to hug the bag to his breast "with a kind of affectionate yearning suggesting the love of a mother for an infant".
Mr Callaghan opted for a brown valise bearing the monogram "EIIR" for his 1965 and 1966 Budgets.
Mr Brown had a new budget bag made by young craftsmen, but his successor, Alistair Darling, returned to the original.
When Norman Lamont was chancellor in the early 1990s, the box he waved at photographers outside Number 11 contained a bottle of whisky, while the speech itself was carried in a plastic bag by his then-aide, William Hague.
Mr Hague, now Foreign Secretary, recalled later: "It would have been a major disaster if the bag had fallen open."
The old budget box will go on display at the Cabinet War Rooms in London. and the National Archives has commissioned a replacement using traditional techniques and materials.