Budget Day was always a solemn occasion for a nation of shopkeepers. Now, with the budget become an instrument of social and economic policy affecting every Briton's standard of life, Budget Day is more solemn than ever.

On Budget Day last week a large crowd gathered in the big, circular lobby adjoining the Chamber. Over the hubbub in the lobby came a sharp, shouted command from a guard: "Hats off, strangers." Everyone stood stone still. There was a long minute of silence as the Speaker's procession approached. (In such a moment at a recent session, a Member tried to get...

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