Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 17:59 UK

Budget briefcase

Photo of Gordon Brown with the makers of his new Budget box on the steps of Number 11 Downing Street
Mr Brown brandishes his new red briefcase, alongside its makers

The Chancellor of the Exchequer carries the Budget Statement to the House of Commons in a famous red leather briefcase.

The original briefcase was made for William Gladstone in around 1860, but in 1997 Gordon Brown ordered a new briefcase.

Four trainees from the Rosyth dockyard in Scotland made the case and appeared on the steps of Number 11 on Budget day for a photo-opportunity with the new Chancellor.

On Budget day, the chancellor holds the "Budget box" aloft on the steps of 11 Downing Street for a press photocall before setting off to the Commons to deliver the statement.

This custom is believed to have originated with Hugh Dalton, the first post-war chancellor.

On Budget day a special scaffold is erected outside Number 11 so the hundreds of photographers can get the all-important shot of the chancellor holding the box aloft.

Changing cases

James Callaghan, chancellor from 1964-67, rejected the box as being too small and had a new larger box made in brown leather.

The original red Budget box went on display in the Public Records Office until Callaghan's successor, Roy Jenkins, requested its return.

Later, Denis Healey also chose to use another briefcase when delivering some of his "mini-budgets".

The Budget box has been known to contain some nasty surprises for the British people.

But in 1868, Chancellor George Ward-Hunt faced another problem. He discovered on opening his box in the Chamber that he had left his speech at home in Number 11 Downing Street.

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