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British Leader Orders Urgent Work on Political Expense Reform


Battered in the polls, British leader Gordon Brown has unveiled an urgent legislative plan to clear-up the political expenses scandal gripping the country. The disclosure during the past month of expense system abuse has rocked not only the ruling Labor Party, but it has damaged the reputation of representatives of all political persuasions in the United Kingdom.

Having weathered terrible results in last week's local council elections in England and in European Parliament elections, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has turned his attention to reforming a tainted political system that has angered people up and down the country.

At issue, the abuse of an expense system by politicians that has severely dented the trust voters place in their elected representatives.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Brown called on members of all parties to work together and speed through a reform bill before they break up for the summer.

"In the midst of all the rancor and recriminations about expenses, let us seize the moment to lift our politics to a higher standard. In the midst of doubt let us revive confidence, let us stand together because on this I think we all at least agree that Britain deserves a political system that is equal to hope and character of our people. Let us differ on policy, that is inevitable, but let us stand together for integrity and democracy," he said.

At the heart of the legislation, Brown wants to see the creation of an independent body that will oversee politicians' expenses.

"We propose that the House of Commons and then subsequently the House of Lords move from the old system of self-regulation to independent statutory regulation," he said. "This will mean the immediate creation of a new parliamentary standards authority."

"It will have delegated power to regulate the system of allowances. No more can Westminster operate in ways reminiscent of the last century where the members make up the rules and operate them among themselves," he added.

Brown also wants, what he calls, a legally binding code of conduct for parliamentarians.

The leader of the main opposition Conservative Party, David Cameron, says he agrees with most of the reforms outlined by the prime minister, but Cameron says what the country really needs now is a change of government.

"Is not the answer to our discredited politics, to our disillusioned country and to our desperately weak government a general election?," he said.

Revelations about politicians' expense abuses published in Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper have angered many, especially because of the tough economic times Britain is going through.

Although the actions of politicians from all the major parties have been highlighted by the paper, it is the ruling Labor Party that has taken the biggest hit.

Labor remains far behind the opposition Conservatives in various polls, which has led some in the Labor Party to call for a leadership change before the next general election that must come within the next 12 months.

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