MPs decided not to vote on expenses report

In the end the vote on Adam Afriyie's "modest proposal" on MPs' expenses didn't go exactly as I predicted - but the outcome was much the same.

Without any actual votes, the Commons accepted an amendment from Guto Bebb, a Conservative member of Mr Afriyie's select committee, which sent the report off to IPSA, the MPs expenses watchdog, for consideration in their next annual review, but which did not endorse its conclusions.

The main casualty of the process was Mr Bebb, who took a tremendous duffing-up from other MPs, especially Conservative backbencher Peter Bone, who openly speculated that he'd been put up to it by the Government. Mr Bebb denied that, but looked a little taken aback by the hostility his amendment attracted.

And the normally avuncular Mark Harper, the Constitutional Affairs Minister, became a bit tetchy under sustained heckling from his own side, particularly from Lib Dem Bob Russell.

But the end result is that the report goes off to IPSA, who may, or may not take any notice of it. Afterwards, Mr Afriyie's attitude was that he'd tried. He believes the expenses system makes it difficult for people who are not independently wealthy, as he is, to survive as MPs, and that the Commons has just taken a step towards becoming a rich man's assembly. The Government, though, was wary of any move, however delicate, which could be seen as encroaching on the independence of IPSA, and seems to have worked quite hard to forestall it. And in the end, today's press coverage and the prospect of more was enough to deter any serious move to support the report.

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