Tuesday, 21 July 2009

School's out!

Nearly there. Just a few more hours until MPs depart for 82 days of fact-finding, bonding with their constituents and the odd well-deserved holiday.

Are they demob-happy or simply relieved to reach the end of a pretty gruesome term for MPs? Gordon Brown has described the expenses affair as the most serious scandal to affect Parliament for more than two centuries. (Worse than Lloyd George selling peerages?)

That hasn't stopped MPs having a close look at media expenses. Ann Clwyd, whose one expenses claims are beyond reproach, asked in the Commons yesterday: "Is it not a fact that the BBC would have more money to improve coverage and content if it spent less public money on excessive salaries and excessive expenses?"

I nearly fell into my moat when I heard that question. My own expenses for July total so far £3.20, and I can't claim the money back until I reach the minimum claim of £20. Don't worry, I'll cope.

The Prime Minister appeared more relaxed than you might expect as he mingled among his guests in the Downing Street garden last night. You might think it's quite decent of him to invite the hacks in given the sort of press he's endured during the last year.

The No 10 garden is surprisingly large and now features not only a playhouse but also a large trampoline, probably for the Brown offspring, although I like the idea of the PM chilling out by bouncing up and down outside the Cabinet room. It may explain his relaxed state.

If he bounced high enough he could have spotted a protester from North Wales playing Patagonian Welsh music through a loudspeaker on top of his estate car during a tour of Whitehall.

The idea was to protest at the recent refusal to allow Patagonian Welsh learners to visit the UK. The music didn't exactly get MPs dancing in the aisles but they may have got the point.

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