Magazine article The Spectator

Back on Its Old Form, the Treasury Is Happiest When Minding Other People's Business

Magazine article The Spectator

Back on Its Old Form, the Treasury Is Happiest When Minding Other People's Business

Article excerpt

The Treasury when I first knew it wanted to do everything. Asked to finance the Bognor Regis bypass, it would have views on where the roundabouts should go and what colour the cat's-eyes should be. A series of shattering crises slowly taught it that minding its own business was hard enough and that other people might well be left to mind theirs. Under Gordon Brown, who has been Labour's only crisis-free Chancellor, the lesson has been wearing off. He excelled himself this week, getting off to a flying start and laying down the law two days before the Queen disclosed to Parliament what the next set of laws were going to be. Muscling in on the Department of Trade and Industry, he conjured up new laws to enforce competition and prison sentences to back them up. Competition, he must think, is what the DTI needs. …

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