I am bemused. Can anyone tell me what our Members of Parliament have resolved this afternoon regarding their expenses. Its clear that the Prime Minister's 'YouTube' idea of introducing a clocking-on payment has been dropped - another day, another humiliation for Gordon Brown. But what else? My understanding is that the first resolution carried by MPs was not to take any decision until Sir Christopher Kelly's Committee has reported. To any normal person that would have been it, But no. MPs then went on to resolve that anyone living within 20 miles of Big Ben, as a pigeon flies, cannot claim the higher 'second home allowance'. They also resolved that details of any secondary employment should be made public. And they resolved that the House of Commons be responsible for employing every MP's staff. These motions seem a touch contradictory to me - unless today's resolutions apply only until Sir Christopher reports in a few months time. This does look utterly shambolic to the outsider looking in.
We are told that the reason Gordon Brown has been so keen to agree something on this issue is that one million receipts are to be made public in a few weeks time. And that this is going to be incendiary, with resignations and even by-elections. There are all sorts of rumours relating to multiple televisions, aircraft flights, health insurance and inventive ways of benefiting from the second homes allowance. In passing I'll share with you an extract of the views of Montgomeryshire's MP on this issue. Only conclusion that I can draw is that he's taking a special interest in farmers. Now why would that be?
" Let that body determine whether there should be regional weighting or not - probably not, otherwise we should have a regional variation minimum wage. Also if people are required to do time sheets, then where exactly does this end? Raising children is time consuming - should this not be recorded? What about farmers? Why isn't voluntary work included - or is it? What about church commitments? Etc. Etc......"
I see that some of the media are not reporting this as the humiliation for the Prime Minister that it so clearly is. Perhaps they thought that his Gurkha's defeat yesterday, plus the way some European leaders have been humiliating him this week was enough. There cannot be anything more demeaning to a Prime Minister than to be defeated on a Lib Dem motion - so congratulations to Nick Clegg and his MPs. It was nice to see him and David Cameron working well together in support of an important principle. For once I was going to congratulate my Montgomeryshire MP, but I'm told he wasn't there to vote or join in what was a great victory for decency. Pity that.