They are private discussions that allow Tory backbenchers the chance to shape how the Government’s billions of pounds are spent.
But Philip Hammond’s Budget chats with MPs have hit a snag thanks to an unwelcome presence in the room: an iPad timer.
Tory sources have revealed to The Telegraph that backbenchers and ministers are exasperated with how tightly the timings are policed.
In particular the way John Glen, Mr Hammond’s 'ministerial bag carrier’, uses an electronic clock to count down the minutes left has ruffled feathers.
Sometimes each MP has as little as six or seven minutes to make their case to the Chancellor for a policy to be included in the Budget.
Mr Glen, the Chancellor’s Parliamentary Private Secretary [PPS], has been known to get out his iPad and start a timer ticking for the meetings.
“It is an unusual thing to do for MPs and ministers to be treated in this way. It is a strange set of affairs,” said a Whitehall source.
“Trying to squeeze difficult pitches into six-, seven-minute time frames is not always the most helpful way to conduct business.”
Challenged over over the practice, Mr Glen came clean but insisted it was because he wanted so many MPs to see the Chancellor.
“I use a variety of tools for timekeeping. On one occasion the iPad timer app seemed the most useful,” Mr Glen said. “Anyone who wants to see the Chancellor can see him at short notice for as long as they need to. That’s my job.”