MPs' expenses 'still a mess'

Ministers faced accusations of presiding over a "shambles" last night as they insisted they remained committed to overhauling the MPs' expenses system. They were surprised by protests that the Queen's Speech contained no fresh proposals for reforming Commons expenses.

The complaints were led by Sir Christopher Kelly, the anti-sleaze watchdog, who said he was "disappointed" by the omission. He listed 10 measures he believes need to be passed into law before the general election to ensure his reform plans are implemented in full.

Harriet Harman, the Commons leader, said she was willing to hold talks with opposition parties if they believed new laws were needed to complete the clean-up of Members' pay and perks. But she cast doubt on whether Sir Christopher's recommended ban on MPs employing their relatives needed legislation to come into effect.

A Conservative spokesman said: "It's another shambles and shows that on expenses reform Gordon Brown still does not get it."