The Sketch: The Chancellor had little in the way of satisfactory answers to any questions

What we will publish is 12 fuel-duty rises and the date that we won't be doing another one!
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Labour Q: Why is the economy in recession two years after we were just coming out?

Coalition A: Because WE'RE not putting up fuel duty like YOU were going to do! (Wild Tory cheering. A junior MP faints when the Chancellor looks at him. A fat man bursts.)

An announcement had been made to the House of Commons, in the way people always say they want. Labour felt sick at the good news and Chris Leslie shoved his elbow in Cathy Jamieson's face in order to pat the shoulder of his boss Ed Balls. It was his way of showing that Labour had: a) been right all along and b) no manners.

It was a very useful for George Osborne's reputation. And very useful for ministers who now have a fallback for any question.

Why is HMRC taking so long to answer its phone? Because YOU put up fuel duty 12 times! (Shame! Shame!)

Will the Government publish a list of millionaires who are avoiding tax with outlandish schemes? "What we will publish is 12 fuel-duty rises and the date that we won't be doing another one! Answer, answer? You ask about tax, the answer is FUEL DUTY!"

There was an impenetrable exchange between Natascha Engel and the Chancellor on quantitative easing. She wanted to know how much of this digital money that had been given to the banks had been used to pay back the real money the Government had used to bail them out. I only just understood the question. The answer would have been FUEL DUTY but they hadn't come to it on the Order Paper.

Her other question was about QE maybe being just a way of paying off bank debt with figures on a screen. Did anyone know how that would play out? It called into question the nature of money, and does it really exist? In my case, not really. That's not a very satisfactory answer. But the Chancellor's was no better.