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Ministers disregard PM on commons expenses

Tom Griffin
4 July 2008

Tom Griffin (London, The Green Ribbon): It's been an unedifying few days for the House of Commons.

On Wednesday, the emergence of Geoff Hoon's letter to Keith Vaz brought renewed allegations that the Government had bought the votes of MPs on 42 day detention.

Shoring up the Government's authority appeared to be less of a priority last night, when MPs voted to block reform of their expenses system.

Although Gordon Brown reportedly favoured the plan, he did not vote. Two of his private secretaries did, but in the other lobby. 33 government ministers were amongst those who voted down the plan, including Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Deputy Chief Whip Nick Brown. 

Headlines like the one on the front page of today's Daily Mail looks certain to overshadow any credit for MP's earlier decision to reject a 4.4 per cent pay rise, in favour of a below-inflation 2.2 per cent.

"It gives the impression of an abuse of public expenditure," Labour MP David Winnick said. "That doesn't enhance our reputation collectively, even though the overwhelming majority of members are not involved."

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