Lamont insists he will deliver next Budget

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SPECULATION about the timing of a Cabinet reshuffle and the future of Norman Lamont surfaced again yesterday after the Chancellor said in a television interview that he would deliver next March's Budget.

'I am here as Chancellor and I will be delivering the Budget,' Mr Lamont told ITN during a discussion of the Treasury's first monthly monetary review. Asked whether he was satisfied that there would be no change of personnel, Mr Lamont said: 'That's a matter for the Prime Minister but I will be delivering the Budget.'

Sticking to the 'business as usual' stance it has taken throughout Mr Lamont's recent difficulties, the Prime Minister's office played down suggestions that Mr Lamont had said anything unusual or significant. Mr Major had given 'no thought' to a reshuffle, a spokeman said.

Downing Street added that Mr Lamont was engaged in drawing up the next Budget. That would rule out a January reshuffle, which some Tories believe would cause instability the economy could ill afford.

Other speculation has it that changes in January, once the Edinburgh summit is out of the way, are still on the cards and that by insisting he would deliver the next Budget, Mr Lamont was seeking to reinforce his position.