Monday, 11 May 2009

Order, order - "Some of us in this House have other responsibilities."

Trying to judge the mood of the Commons today is difficult - the mood swings between public contrition - displayed by Michael Gove and Gordon Brown - and private anger that everyone is being hung out to dry by "stolen goods", which is how most MPs see the material being published by the Daily Telegraph.

Extraordinary scenes in the chamber when the Speaker attempted to deal with the expenses farrago. He called on members to observe the "spirit of what is right" but he was steaming angry about the press leaks.

When the pro-hunting, pro-Boris, Labour MP Kate Hoey stood up in the chamber to say that calling in the police in was "an awful waste of resources?" she met the full wrath of the Speaker, Michael Martin.

"I listen to you often, when I turn on my television at midnight, and I hear your public utterances and your pearls of wisdom on Sky News. It’s easy to talk then," said Mr Martin.

"Let me put this to you and to every Hon Member in this House - is it the case that an employee of this House should be able to hand over any private data to any organisation of his or her choosing? And the allegation is that that information was handed over to a third party to find the highest bidder for private information."

He gave her both barrels, adding: "I just say to you it’s easy to say to the press, ‘This should not happen’. It’s a wee bit more difficult when you just don’t have to give quotes to the press and do nothing else."

No one's ever seen the Speaker so angry off script, or so articulate. He even had a go at Norman Baker, the Lib Dem MP who has campaigned for expenses to be revealed. All in the Herald tomorrow.

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