No more letters from the Chancellor

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The Chancellor has upset Tory MPs with another innovation at the Treasury, by announcing that he is no longer able to send MPs personal replies to all their bids for the Budget, writes Colin Brown.

Gordon Brown has written to all MPs saying he is trying to streamline the system of letter writing from the Treasury to backbenchers. In the past, the Chancellor's office has had to send out hundreds of personal letters to MPs when they raised issues on behalf of their constituents or made suggestions for inclusion in the Budget. Each has carried the Chancellor's signature, although recently it has been printed. In future, the MPs will receive a standard letter.

Mr Brown told the MPs that by streamlining the system, he will be able to spend more time on the substantive issues they have raised. A Treasury source said it was a "sensible measure" that "should not be taken as any discourtesy to MPs".

But the Tory MPs regard the change as one Treasury cut too far. "I am appalled," said Nicholas Winterton, the long-serving Tory backbench MP for Macclesfield. "It is a discourtesy to the House and is a further blow to the principle of accountability by this Labour government."