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Is the MPs expenses gravy train grinding to a halt?

While Gordon Brown has taken some severe criticism this week regarding his attempt to hijack the changes in the MPs expenses system there is no doubt that progress has been made. He was forced into a humiliating retreat yesterday and also gave up further ground today allowing some measures to be deferred to an independent committee currently looking into the situation. However, the abolition of the second home allowance where ministers have grace and favour accommodation together with a requirement for all MPs to declare their outside earnings is definitely a move in the right direction.

A larger review of the system is expected to be released later this year, or perhaps early in 2010, which will recommend a number of wide-ranging changes to a system which has ballooned out of control. This is a very sensitive political issue because while some MPs and some parties may disagree with the basis of Gordon Brown's move this needs to be balanced with public opinion and how this could impact upon voting patterns in the general election.

While the economy will take centre stage in next year's general election, side issues such as MPs expenses should not be dismissed out of hand as they hold very strong political sway with the electorate.

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