The government has had another dreadful week. Yesterday in the Commons was a farce. To avoid losing another vote the government accepted a cross party proposal to delay changes to the expense regime until we had the full report of Mr Kelly, recently appointed to sort it out. Despite that, they went on to vote through some changes. Mr Kelly may well now come to different conclusions, challenging these interim measures.
Only one of those will reduce costs, which I would have thought should be the main aim. That was the proposal to prevent MPs in London from claiming the second homes allowance. The changes to employment of staff may make the whole system dearer, as they seem to want to prevent people finding out how much each MP spends on staff, removing the incentive to keep your staff costs down which exists in the present system. The requirement to present receipts for small sums is fine but will make little difference.
The underlying message this May day is the government has lost its grip. Some foolishly thought Mr Brown knew what he was doing when he nationalised the banks. That will turn out to be his most ruinously expensive decision. He is now proving that having lost control of the big numbers, he has little more grip over the small but sensitive numbers on how much his MPs spend.