Conservative Diary

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David Cameron may not be Prime Minister yet - but on reforming MPs' expenses he's the one setting the agenda

David Cameron at podium Eight days ago, David Cameron gave an impressive press conference at which he set down tough new expenses rules which would apply forthwith to all Conservative MPs.

He articulated the following four measures:

  • All expenses would be published online;
  • The practice of MPs "flipping" main and second homes would be banned;
  • MPs selling a home funded by the second home allowance would be expected to pay capital gains tax on it; 
  • MPs would be limited to spending their additional costs allowance on rent, mortgage interest, overnight stays,  council tax and utility bills: food, furniture and household goods would no longer be claimable.

The Tory leader repeated these promises in his broadcast to the nation at the end of last week.

Last night, the soon-to-be-departing Speaker Martin came to the Commons to announce the conclusions of the meeting between the party leaders which he convened yesterday afternoon.

He announced a virtually identitcal set of measures as those unveiled by David Cameron over a week ago, which are to be brought in immediately and will cover the interim period before Sir Christopher Kelly reports back on these matters.

David Cameron was not brazen enough to make the point when doing a round of interviews last night, but it is worth making here: he has taken the lead on this issue and it has been left to others to follow him. For this he deserves credit. 

That said, this is no time for complacency, and there is still much David Cameron and the Conservative Party needs to do to restore the public's faith in Parliament, MPs and the political process - and Tim outlined his proposals on this front here at the weekend.

Jonathan Isaby


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