Speaker Martin steps down

The news has just come through that the Speaker of the House of Commons is to step down.

Just this weekend, I helped organise an open letter from over 50 Lib Dem candidates to Michael Martin; we were calling on him to publish all MPs expenses in full, accept the reform recommendations from Sir Christopher Kelly – or quit.

I actually hoped he would reform rather than resign – his departure will not in itself resolve the problem – but it seems his position had become impossible.

If any MPs think that this is all that needs to be done, they are mistaken; the new Speaker, whoever he/she is, will have the clearest of mandates to clean up the mess that generations of their predecessors have let build up.

I used to travel for my work and could claim for bed and board. But if I treated myself to wine with my meal, or chocolates on the train, it never occurred to me to claim for those. I find it extraordinary that MPs, who every day meet constituents struggling to cope, should have thought it acceptable for a moment to claim for non-essentials, even if it was wholly within the rules.

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