For ten years Gordon Brown has delivered the annual Budget speech - now at last he was able to sit and listen. Alistair Darling has not had an easy start to his new career: there were calls for his head over the Northern Rock affair when the ink was hardly dry on his new job title, and the changes to Capital Gains Tax he announced last October attracted so much criticism that extra tax reliefs had to be introduced. When he came to write the Budget he would have found several pages of "things to do" left over when Mr Brown moved next door some of the changes coming in April 2008 were announced in March 2007.
So, could Mr Darling make his first Budget a success, economically and politically? Could he make some changes of his own that would not bear his predecessor's fingerprints? He has promised to simplify tax, which would be very welcome but Mr Brown had spent ten years going the other way.
As usual, the speech itself does not tell the full story. In 50 minutes at the despatch box, Mr Darling hardly mentioned tax at all. The important details are hidden away in the 107 press releases issued by HM Revenue & Customs after the Chancellor sat down. This booklet summarises the main changes and outlines their likely effect on the average taxpayer.
As announced last year, income tax basic rate cut to 20% and 10% starting rate restricted to savings income.
Rules to prevent income shifting between married couples and civil partners deferred until 2009.
Changes to rules for counting days in determining UK residence.
£30,000 charge for using "remittance basis" confirmed for foreign domiciled long-term UK residents.
Increases in tax charges for employees with company cars and free fuel to use in them.
Fundamental reform of Capital Gains Tax confirmed - no closure of last-minute tax planning before 5 April.
Nil rate band for Inheritance Tax transferable between married couples and civil partners where second dies on or after 9 October 2007.
Changes to rates of capital allowances for plant and buildings from April 2008.