Candid Caller

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ON TUESDAY Norman Lamont will present the last Spring Budget before the date shifts to November. The Candid Caller asked his namesakes what they would do if they were Chancellor and whether they were happy with the present incumbent. If not, would they prefer the 'Troubleshooter' Sir John Harvey-Jones, and what alternative career would they suggest for Mr Lamont?

Mr N Lamont of Edinburgh: 'I'd tax company cars heavily and abolish tax relief on mortgages over pounds 150,000. I'd like tax relief on creches: they cost me more than the mortgage. I'd go for Sir John because he talks common sense. Lamont deserves to spend the rest of his years auditing civil service petty cash accounts.'

Mr N Lamont of Maida Vale, west London: 'Really radical measures are needed. I'd try to kick-start the economy by increasing the tax threshold on property mortgage relief to pounds 40,000- pounds 50,000, while pouring money into construction. I'd welcome Harvey-Jones in the job; I'd put Lamont to work in an off-licence instead.'

Mr N Lamont of Edinburgh: 'I'd increase income tax for people in the highest brackets. I'd love the singer Leonard Cohen to get the job of Chancellor]'

Mr N Lamont of Clapton, east London: 'I'd halt the attack on public services and make income tax the principal source of revenue. I'm vehemently against VAT. Lamont must go. Anyone would be better, as long as they aren't Tory.'

Mr N Lamont of Edinburgh: 'I'd bring Scotland's business rates into line with England's: at present we pay more. I'd also ensure the Scottish whisky industry is treated more kindly. I would nominate my dear wife Lin to be Chancellor, she's brilliant with figures. I'd only entrust Lamont with road-sweeping now.'

Mrs N Lamont of Glasgow: 'I'd help protect senior citizens' investments. I'd also abolish road tax and put the cost on petrol instead - the more you use, the more you pay. Lamont needs a very long rest and Sir John in his place would be a very positive