I had to stifle a groan when listening to BBC radio just now. Its grave tones said that – in the wake of Thursday’s vote – there would probably be a new inquiry into MPs expenses. It’s by the committee on standards in public life, chaired by Sir Christopher Kelly. The review would strike terror into the hearts of MPs (I paraphrase).
The only problem is; so what? As one person close to the committe admits, it could come up with a highly critical report, but then what? The MPs who voted down the members’ estimate committe (MEC) are not going to vote for any other major change. Oblivious to the public mood, their heads are buried deep in the sand.
The Cabinet Office is putting out a report on Monday looking at UK food policy. It’s expected to say that one in 10 deaths – up to 70,000 a year – could be saved by people eating more healthily.
A third of cardiovascular cases and a quarter of cancer deaths are diet-related, meaning that eating five portions of fruit and veg a day could hugely reduce the burden on the NHS.
The recommendations for reform of MPs’ expenses were hardly radical. They would have kept their circa £23,000 of expenses for a second home in London - and won greater public respect – in return for taking a few blows such as tougher auditing, a halving of the allowance for those in greater London and the end of free furniture and new kitchens.
For a majority to reject the proposals yesterday was the equivalent of a giant V-sign at the media and – much more importantly – the voters.