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At present presided over by Prime Minister-in-waiting, Gordon Brown, the Treasury (aka Her Majesty's Treasury or HM Treasury) is the government department that runs the country's finances.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer's roles are many and varied, but perhaps his most well publicised duty is that of deciding the nation's annual Budget - something that is carried out with much ceremony in accordance with the importance of the event (and indeed of the Chancellor himself). The Budget covers all new fiscal legislation for the coming year, from setting duty levels on alcohol or petrol to any changes in personal or business taxes, and is seen as the key indicator of the state of the nation's finances.

It has been much remarked upon that the present Chancellor Gordon Brown's constant watch-word in his running of the Treasury is 'prudence', implying a slightly cautious approach, but the steady growth of the British economy under his stewardship suggests otherwise.

One of the most important - and also potentially risky - things Brown has done since in office is to let The Bank of England set national interest rates for borrowing, something the Treasury had hitherto been in charge of.

Other Brown initiatives that have caught the eye include the raising of the National Minimum Wage and the introduction of Family Tax Credits, both of which have substantially improved many people's quality of life.

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