Baffled by the Budget? Help is at hand ...

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The Independent Online
How will the Budget affect you?

That is the question which millions of people are asking themselves this morning.

And it's a very silly question, because what they should be asking themselves this morning is, "How will the Budget affect me?"

And they are asking the wrong person, because very few of us can supply the Budget answers to our own questions.

But one person who can supply all the answers to your Budget questions is Captain Roger Guinness, a financial adviser fresh back from Hong Kong whom I bumped into in the pub last night and whom, unaccountably, I found asleep on my kitchen floor this morning. I gave him the choice of clearing the place up or writing my article today. He must have misunderstood me because he has agreed to do both. All yours, Captain! Let's have those readers' queries!

I am a diplomat near retirement age, and I would like to know how I will be affected by Gordon Brown's first Budget. I was for a long time MP for Bath, but I lost that, and then I was put in charge of Hong Kong but I have just lost that as well, so I am looking for a safe nest egg to put all my savings in. Given my record, it would have to be very safe indeed.

Captain Guinness writes: Where do you keep the dustpan? Someone seems to have broken a mug. It's all over the place. Sorry - what was the question ?

In a nutshell, what advice would you give to a politician who had just given away the last bit of the Empire?

Captain Guinness writes: Ah! Whenever there is a change of government, or an end of an era, the outgoing politicians are very tempted to write their memoirs in order to put the record crooked and make a lot of money. But this new Government is determined to crack down on this windfall and introduce a hefty one-off tax on all politicians who make money out of what is, after all, a public position.

If you want my advice, I would get your memoirs written by someone else and set up a trust fund for the proceeds. Why not ask a friend of yours like Jonathan Dimbleby to put his name to a book called something like The Last Days of Hong Kong and thus avoid the new political memoirist's windfall tax altogether?

Well, as one of the few Tory MPs around, obviously I am going to be in great demand to take money to ask questions in Parliament and I wondered how I would stand on this under the new Budget

Captain Guinness writes: Badly.

I think Gordon Brown is absolutely right to increase taxes a bit to take the heat out of the economy and also to raise a bit of money, so that when these oily interviewers on the `Today' programme say, "Ah, but where is the money going to come from?" which seems to be the only question they are ever trained to ask, government politicians can say that Gordon Brown will give it to them. In fact, I don't think he has asked for enough in the way of taxes and I, personally, would be happy to pay more. Is there any way in which a taxpayer can legally hand over more money to the government than he has been asked for?

Captain Guinness writes: Certainly. Make up your mind exactly how much you would like to pay extra, then send me a cheque for the amount, made payable to "Roger Guinness No 2 account". I will pass it on for you to the right quarters. Ah - I'll have a cup of coffee if you're making some. And the next!

This time last year I was actually making the Budget speech. Since then I have lost my job. Not only that - I have even been forced to make friends with John Redwood in the most humiliating circumstances, and now I am lumbered with him as best chum. How will the Budget affect me?

Captain Guinness writes: Not at all, I should hope.

For heaven's sake, if an ex-chancellor can't work out how to bypass a Budget, who can? Heavens, look at the time - after 11am and still as dry as a whistle. Time for a gin and tonic, old boy?

Captain Guinness may be back to help me at the next Budget. And there again, he may not.

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