By Ray Fleming

BETWEEN them Britain's three party leaders and the parliamentary authorities seem to have made a complete mess of the measures they introduced to clean-up the MPs expenses and allowances scandal. Last Wednesday the former senior civil servant Sir Christopher Kelly revealed the reforms that he believed should be instituted in the rules and guidelines that have previously governed these matters.

Sir Christopher, the chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, put forward more than 60 recommendations which were almost immediately endorsed by Brown, Cameron and Clegg -- despite grumbling from many of their MPs who considered some of Kelly's ideas inappropriate or unfair. It was also on Wednesday that Professor Sir Ian Kennedy was named as the person to chair the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) whose task, it was thought, would be to implement Kelly's reforms.

Yesterday, however, it emerged that the professor may have his own ideas on the subject and that Kelly's ideas will not necessarily be adopted. IPSA intends to consult widely with those directly affected and also with the public over a new expenses and allowance system. This new development has given encouragement to MPs who feel they have been badly treated by Kelly and the earlier revelations on expenses but may now have a court of appeal.

The public will wonder how long all this rethinking is going to take and whether it will be finished before the general election.

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