The Sketch: Not many laughs in this Budget, apart from pasties

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The Independent Online

In a series of sharp but civilised exchanges, Andrew Tyrie probed the Chancellor about the security of the Budget detail.

In a series of sharp but uncivilised exchanges John "Mad Dog" Mann probed the Chancellor's "morally repugnant" avoidance of Capital Gains Tax on his flipped second home.

As to the leaks: "I am in some sense as angry as you," the Chancellor said. Was that in the sense of not being angry at all? Or in the way of being very much angrier at those f****** Liberal D**c****s who'd splashed his work across the media? John Thurso was chuckling away comfortably, and the Permanent Secretary obviously knew enough of the guilty not to order a leak inquiry. "I took a very dim view of it," he said, of leaking in the 1980s. "You're not now," Andrew Love told him comic finality.

Sir Nicholas KCB, deserves a good kicking round the room for the way he talked over Labour's Teresa Pearce. Ms Pearce nonetheless established as a fact that any Laffer effects of reducing the 50p rate to 45p are solely a judgement of the Chancellor without the imprimateur of HMRC.

We also had a development of the incentives argument between Pat McFadyen and the Chancellor. Cutting poor people's income makes them work harder, but to make rich people work harder you cut their taxes. It's a good point, but rebutted if not refuted by Osborne's belief that this tax cut will produce higher revenues. Though why, as Stewart Hosie asked, the rich will pay 45p rather than, as at present, nothing, is a point that needs clarifying.

Enough of these unprovable assertions. John Mann demanded to know of the Chancellor the last time he'd ordered a Gregg's pasty. And if it was a vattable pasty. Because if it was hot, it was vattable and if cold it was VAT free. What about if it was warm? Its tax status "depended on the ambient temperature" and "to fill in their VAT returns they'll have to consult the Met Office." There aren't many laughs in the Budget but that was one.