The announcement of an end to the self regulating gentleman’s club that has characterised Parliament was welcome news to my ears! I have been arguing for an independent body to set pay and expenses for MP’s and Pees for some years and we have taken a significant step towards that.
I have a history on this. When I was chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party I faced annual elections. I had no challengers until Betty Boothroyd retired as Speaker of the House. I told Michael Martin I would not vote for him because he was not committed to modernising the House. I voted for the Conservative George Young instead. Voting for an Eton educated Baronet instead of a Glasgow sheet metal worker was not my best career move! I survived by just 7 votes.
I think recent events have justified my action. I had nothing against Michael Martin personally and he never bore me any grudge but he was a block on reform and the Speaker can radically change Parliament. I think the opportunities are even greater now that we have a Speaker in the Lords who is interested in reform. We are not there yet but we are on the way!