Leading article: A damp squib

It was always unrealistic to think that the Prime Minister would set out a blueprint for comprehensive political reform when he presented his plans in the Commons yesterday. There was not the slightest chance that a new voting system, say, would be in place by the next election. Even those with much more modest expectations, however, would have been disappointed by what Mr Brown had to offer.

He spent much time on the reform of the expenses system – change not only woefully overdue, but in its essentials already clear. The introduction of a statutory code of conduct for MPs is welcome – but would it be on the cards at all, were it not for the public hue and cry about MPs' expenses? Ditto the proposal to extend the Freedom of Information Act to all bodies funded by public money. While this proposal may reflect MPs' resentment about their recent experience, it still beggars belief that all those spending tax payers' money were not included all along.