Gordon Brown announces new expenses legislation
LEGISLATION is to be rushed through Parliament to end Westminster’s system of self-regulation and impose a new code of conduct on MPs in the wake of the expenses scandal, Gordon Brown announced yesterday.
MPs could be expelled from Parliament or forced to seek re-election if found guilty of gross financial misconduct by the new independent regulator.
And the Prime Minister also called for a public debate on wider reform of the democratic system, including alternative voting systems for general elections and a written constitution.
A bill to complete the final stages of Lords reform – including the removal of hereditary peers and an 80%-100% elected second chamber – will be published before the summer, but is unlikely to become law before the coming election.
Opposition parties have given their backing to independent regulation but accused Mr Brown of slow progress on constitutional reform.
Conservative leader David Cameron said the proposals were designed as a smokescreen to distract attention from the Prime Minister’s loss of authority.
And Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg urged Mr Brown to cancel the Commons’ 72-day summer break to ensure the reforms are in place by the autumn.
In a statement to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister acknowledged that public anger over expenses was threatening Parliament’s legitimacy. MPs had no more pressing task than responding to the demand for “higher standards of financial conduct from all people in public life”, he said.