Although he may not have meant to, the Chancellor has effectively shown the green light to tax cheats in his Budget proposals.

He also shows a complete lack of respect to the hard-working staff of the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise.

In recent years, the former has had to cope with the introduction of self-assessment and the merger of the inspectors and collectors' offices. Now it will have to struggle with a merger between itself and Customs and Excise.

The main reason for this merger is so Gordon Brown can demonstrate he is paying lip-service to the Tories' demands for cuts in the civil service.

He should know there is no real link between the direct taxes that the revenue currently assesses and collects and the indirect taxes assessed and collected by Customs and Excise.

This merger will seriously distract our tax-gathering civil servants from the job of catching tax cheats. It will be no surprise if the forecast redundancies are massively increased by the resignations of disgruntled officers.

When will politicians learn to treat civil servants as decently as they treat themselves?

-Michael Stimson, retired Inland Revenue inspector and Green Party candidate for the European Parliament