The Commons speaker has lashed out at Rishi Sunak’s pre-Budget PR drive, telling the chancellor policies should be announced to MPs first.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle said it was important the chancellor follow “tradition” after it emerged journalists had been pre-briefed on the Budget by the Treasury.
Sir Lindsay said that “at one time the Budget was never revealed to the media” ahead of time.
He said it was “important that people hear it on the floor of the House” first and suggested the chancellor follow that tradition.
Sir Lindsay then said he expected Sunak to “sit through” the entirety of post-Budget questions from MPs and not “dash off” to hold his pre-announced press conference at 5pm.
Numerous measures contained within the Budget, including an extension of furlough, a new mortgage guarantee scheme and extra cash for pubs and shops, were announced in the days leading up to Wednesday’s announcement in the Commons.
His approach has angered Sir Lindsay who told Sky News that all government policies should be set out to MPs first rather than being pre-briefed to the media.
Speaking on the eve of the Budget, Sir Lindsay said: “At one time the Budget was never revealed to the media.
“My worry is what will be new tomorrow and I think that is a worry that we’ve got to get back to.
“Tradition matters and it’s important that people hear it on the floor of the House, not briefing newspapers before and certainly not dashing off afterwards to tell them how good they were.
“We will judge that ourselves by doing it live in the Commons.”
Sunak has said his post-Budget press conference will be the first ever held by Downing Street.
Unions have attacked the budget and accused the chancellor of turning a cold shoulder to the issue of pay for public sector workers.
Officials of unions representing hundreds of thousands of public sector workers and civil servants described Sunak’s Budget as an “insult”.
Rehana Azam, national officer of the GMB, said: “The chancellor can dance around his living room with the ministerial red box all he wants, but all this Budget shows to public sector workers is that his clapping is a worthless gesture.
“When it comes down to it, the big ‘love-in’ and ‘immense praise’ has amounted to nothing for the workers that carried us through the pandemic.
“Nor has he changed the super-spreader policy of poverty sick pay that prevents people from self-isolating.
“This Budget is an insult to the millions of NHS, schools, care, local government workers who have seen us through this crisis.”