So what did you think? Union leaders, literary lights (and a former madam) give their verdict

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Indy Politics

Ruth Lea, Centre for Policy Studies

Ruth Lea, Centre for Policy Studies

"I am sceptical about the Chancellor's forecast for GDP and public financing. He is still spending very heavily. He made a great deal about saving money but if you take a look at the bottom-line figures for 2007, there are big spending increases in the pipeline. This can only lead to one conclusion: tax rises."

JG Ballard, Author

"My guess is that it could help Labour to another victory. I'm glad that more is to be spent on education and I'm very glad that the number of civil servants is being drastically reduced, which is long overdue. But I am quite sorry to learn that a glass of wine will cost more."

Susie Orbach, Writer and social commentator

"[With] the increased NHS budget, I would not like to see the money diverted to pharmaceutical fixes. I would hope it is going into public health engagement, because no one likes to walk into a dirty hospital and talk to a receptionist untrained in engaging with the patient."

Harvey Goldsmith, Music impresario

"It is a very election-friendly Budget. I was expecting stamp duty to go up as well as maybe excise rates but it all seems to have been fairly neutral. This has 'election budget' written all over it. Or maybe the country isn't in as bad a shape as the media is making out."

Julia Ogilvy, Charity worker

"One small area of the Budget that may have gone unnoticed to some people was the Chancellor's reference to investment in voluntary schemes for young people. I'm extremely excited about this as it's one of my big passions. These schemes are a great way of realising the potential of young people."

Tony Juniper, Director, Friends of the Earth

"This Budget has practically ignored the environment. Tony Blair says that climate change is the biggest long-term threat the planet faces, but, once again his Chan- cellor has chickened out of tackling it. The alarm bells are ringing, but Gordon Brown isn't listening."

Peter Cotgreave, Director, Save British Science

"The Chancellor said that economic prosperity had historically been based on a record of scientific achievement. We hope his ten-year plan will recognise the lessons. One is that some of the most important break- throughs follow blue-skies research, not just that with an obvious industrial application".

Louise Christian, Human rights solicitor

"The increased public spending on education and health sounds good but, hitherto, such rises have only added an extra layer of bureaucracy within these institutions. The figures for increased nurses sounds impressive but not when you compare this to the increased take-up within the NHS."

Iqbal Sacranie, Muslim Council of Britain

"The tax exemption for repairs on places of public worship I welcome because it acknowledges the good work that they doing in these difficult times. I welcome the rise in duty on cigarettes and alcohol because alcohol can affect the health of our society and this may restrict excessive activity."

Emily Dubberley, Internet entrepreneur and sexologist

"I'm happy with this Budget. Cigarettes going up isn't a major disappointment. Smoking is a horrible habit, and the rise will help pay for cancer treatment. The freeze on spirits is great news. If I'm up £18 up in the next financial year, as predicted, that's what I'll spend it on."

Mike Benner, Campaign for Real Ale

"A penny may not sound much, but today's tax rise follows recent wholesale beer price rises by some brewers. Some pubs will now be charging as much as 12p a pint more than they were only a month ago. At a time when beer consumption is falling and pub-going is in decline this is disappointing."

Colin Blakemore, Medical Research Council

"It is gratifying to see such a strong commitment to science, particularly when there are severe budgetary restraints. He has recognised that because of our world-class bio-medical science and the structure of the NHS, we have the potential to create a platform for clinical research unrivalled in the world."

Julie Mellor, Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission

"Giving parents access to affordable, flexible, good quality childcare will make a massive difference. But the Government needs to invest even more in the support parents need. The unpaid work they do is of massive social importance and has been valued at £227bn."

Kevin Curran, General secretary, GMB

"The Chancellor has bravely negotiated cuts in Whitehall departments that will ensure public service investment reaches communities where it can most help individuals and families. GMB members who provide frontline services will welcome the stress on delivery rather than bureaucracy."

Cynthia Payne, Former madam

"I am pleased with the rises in beer, wine and cigarette duty: I am dismayed when I see young girls with beer and fags in their hand walking down the street. I also approve of the generous education budget as I believe you can never know too much. The success of our society lies in good schools."

Digby Jones, Director general, CBI

"This is an innovative and meaningful package. The Chancellor has responded to calls for measures to invest in enterprise, education, science and transport. At last we are seeing a real attempt to tackle outdated ways of working that have often resulted in the inefficient use of public money."

Derek Simpson, General secretary, Amicus

"More of the benefits of economic growth and low inflation need to be shared with manufacturing workers who are struggling with low wages, job insecurity and a spiralling pensions crisis. Skilled jobs like those at Bombardier are being lost every day and this is bad news for the UK economy."

Isabella Moore, President of the British Chambers of Commerce

"The Chancellor is to be congratulated on ensuring sustainable economic growth. This has provided a predictable environment within which business can grow. However, the Budget was quite thin in terms of specific proposals to improve the lot of firms in the future."

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