Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Tuesday, 28 April 2009 14:30 UK

Clarke warns Brown: Don't bully

Charles Clarke
Mr Clarke said Mr Brown needed agreement from all sides on expenses

Gordon Brown must not "bully" other politicians in his efforts to reform the system of MPs' expenses, former Home Secretary Charles Clarke has said.

He told BBC Radio 4's World at One the prime minister had tried to force change by "diktat" and that this had "not been the right way to go".

Mr Brown has abandoned plans to replace MPs' second homes allowances with flat-rate expenses for attending Parliament.

This followed opposition from other parties and Labour's back benches.

Mr Clarke, a long-time critic of the prime minister, when asked whether Mr Brown would be Labour leader at the next election, replied: "I expect so."

'Damaged'

MPs are due to vote on the government's reform plans for MPs' expenses on Thursday.

The proposal to abolish controversial second homes expenses - worth up to £24,000 a year - and replace them with a flat-rate daily allowance for attending the Commons was abandoned on Monday.

There should still be votes on other issues, such as whether MPs' staff should be centrally employed by the Commons authorities and greater transparency for politicians' outside earnings.

Mr Brown, on a visit to Poland, said it was "ridiculous" to suggest the episode had harmed the government.

But Mr Clarke disagreed, telling World at One the prime minister had "been damaged by it".

Putting forward the reform proposals on the Downing Street website before discussing them with other parties had seemed like a "diktat", he said.

Mr Clarke added: "This simply was not the right way to go... I thought it was very damaging."

He said: "I think in these kinds of political issues he has got to recognise that these are House of Commons matters.

"He's got to not bully in the way that he goes about it. And he's really got to get to an agreement that sticks and is fair to both members of Parliament and the country as a whole."



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