Daily View: 2×2

2 big stories

There’s only one game in town this morning, and it’s a mish-mash of the Speaker’s resignation plus the interim measures on expenses he announced yesterday. The Guardian has it:

MPs will no longer be allowed to “flip” second homes or claim for household goods, the outgoing Commons Speaker Michael Martin announced tonight as part of a “robust” set of interim measures aimed at resolving the MPs’ expenses crisis.

Just hours after telling the Commons he was standing down as Speaker next month following pressure over his handling of the expenses debacle, Martin reappeared to tell MPs that the lax system of allowances would be “tightened up”.

He outlined the changes after Gordon Brown announced that “fundamental” changes would be made to “clean up” politics.

Speaking at a Downing Street news conference this afternoon, the prime minister said an independent, extra-parliamentary body would need to take over the Commons fees office and operate a new allowances system following revelations about the lax system which has governed expenses claims lodged by MPs over the years.

That’s it – they’ve lost the right to run their own affairs. I like the Telegraph’s (paper) front page – A Very British Revolution.

Meanwhile, quietly buried under the forests devoted to the above is this item, also from the Telegraph:

All Gurkha veterans will be given the same right to settle in Britain, ministers will announce on Thursday.

Our work here is done.

2 must-read blog posts

Plenty of high quality blogging regarding the fall-out from the Speaker’s resignation yesterday. Andy Hinton explains Michael Martin’s exit as follows:

Nick Clegg can feel today that he has played an important part in a real move forward for the House of Commons, with the departure of Michael Martin now forthcoming. However, listening to comments from the public on today’s Daily Politics and yesterday’s Five Live Drive, it’s also clear to me that the public doesn’t share the view of many in the commons that this is an important step.

And Costigan Quist, who is “studiously avoiding” all Martin-related blogging, reckons the teenage pregnancy record is not so bad after all:

It isn’t perfect. It isn’t as good as it could be. But it’s so much better than in the pre-liberal era. Better for the children. Better for the young parents. Better for all of us in society.

So, for all the hand-wringing and absurd collapse-of-society nonsense, this is a good news story. Fewer teenage pregnancies than forty years ago and better outcomes for those who do get pregnant and their children.

Our challenge isn’t to stop a disaster, it’s to build on modest success.

And Finally…

…because everyone loves self-examination, head over to Quaequam Blog! and find your perfect political partner for the European elections with the Vote Match tool.

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7 Comments

  • Alix Mortimer 20th May '09 - 9:54am

    Good point, that Tory.

    I also hope no politician from any party starts kidding themselves that this will be sufficient. Heads are still needed, methinks.

    On an objective-as-possible level, LFAT, which, if any, of our heads do we need to chop? Our problem is that (apart from the outstanding allegations against Lord Rennard) no-one has done anything so unspeakably awful that Clegg has no choice. This is causing us some difficulty in the “looking tough” stakes. Tough on cushions, tough on the causes of cushions doesn’t seem to cut it.

    I ask now because we should know on Friday what’s going to happen internally as regards heads.

  • “apart from the outstanding allegations against Lord Rennard”

    Still no news on that?

  • Alix Mortimer 20th May '09 - 10:36am

    Nope. The Fed Exec’s report (which, we hope, discussed it) is due on Friday, apparently.

  • Further to the blog I posted yesterday on “Goodnight Tiegnbridge” as a constituent who feels “let down by RYR” I would like to bring some further points to “the table”. Having read some of the comments made so far, I am very pleased to read that not every MP has made massive and wide ranging expense claims for their respective Parliamentary work, particularly the three LibDems named by the Telegraph, but that does raise questions as to why some have and why some didn’t? The full claims for expenses made by my local MP’S here in south Devon, if correct figures, begs further explanation and full breakdown is required to convince me why I should have to pay from my taxes these sums in addition to their regular pay of £64,000 + (bear in mind that Ben Bradshaw receives more as a Government minster).

    £164,063 Adrian Sanders – Torbay

    £160,957 Anthony Steen – South Hams

    £157,841 Richard Younger Ross – Tiegnbridge

    £141,595 Ben Bradsahw – Exeter

    It is quite simple to resolve the expenses system, they should be brought in line with their respective rank within the Civil Service, a tried and tested independent system run by auditors, there is no need to “set up a new body” all claims through this system are checked by HMRC and if tax is required it is deducted at source and compliant with FOIA

    Relating to accommodation, the Metropolitan Police run a series of “Section Houses” across London, not as many as they used to, but these are government buildings, Tintagel House now used for offices on the Southbank not far from Lambeth bridge and within 10/ 15 minutes walking distance of the House would be ideal to turn into accommodation, it is secure with the Met operating security.

    I read one correspondent stating that she would not like her MP (Mathew Taylor I believe) to be entertaining guests, other Politicians from visiting countries were used as an example, in anything other than a restaurant fit for purpose. I understand there are 3 world class restaurants and one of the countries finest wine cellars housed within the House of Commons, you can even smoke in them as they exempted themselves from the smoking ban, these are open into the early hours of the morning and these along with members bars are not covered by licensing hours, why because MP’S have to sit for long hours in the commons and it is used as ”their home away from home” and of course all this is heavily subsidised by the taxpayer. So why the need to claim for food? If you look at the long recesses, returning home at weekends, how many nights does the average MP have to be in London? 125/30.

    I have never been politically active until now, but we need change, I know of people across the whole community who are really struggling, these people need to go and lets get people in who realise that they put them selves up for election to serve not be served.

    Nick

  • Nick – excellent suggestions re MP accommodation and facilities.

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