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What exactly does the Chancellor of the Exchequer do?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer is one of the so-called "four great offices of state" in the UK and is effectively head of the UK Treasury. Historically the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been one and the same person until 1882 with WE Gladstone the last Prime Minister to serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer at the same time as Prime Minister. It is the third oldest major state office in British history and one which brings significant exposure and significant power for those lucky enough to be appointed.

However, until 1997 the Chancellor of the Exchequer was in control of both monetary policy and fiscal policy of the day until the Labour Party granted the Bank of England independence from the government and total control of UK interest rates. The main role of the Chancellor of the Exchequer today is to oversee public spending across the whole range of government departments and bring in as much income as possible.

Some of the more recent Chancellors of the Exchequer include Sir Geoffrey Howe, Nigel Lawson, John Major, Norman Lamont, Kenneth Clarke, Gordon Brown and the current chance of Exchequer Alistair Darling. Each Chancellor had a very different economic environment to operate under and their past records vary enormously.

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