Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald, Conservative)
There is an immense naivety governing this debate. If we imagine that, by passing the well thought out motion tabled by the Members Estimate Committee, we shall somehow restore public confidence, or that by rejecting the amendment tabled by Mr. Touhig, we shall continue not to have the confidence of the public, we are living in cloud cuckoo land.
One of two headlines will greet us at breakfast tomorrow. If the recommendations of the Members Estimate Committee go through, the headline will be "MPs to get £30 a day just for turning up". If the right hon. Gentleman's amendment, which I intend to support, is passed, the headline will be "MPs vote to keep the John Lewis list". Whichever way we vote, we will continue to be vilified and ridiculed until we have the guts—which we certainly did not show in the previous series of votes—to stand up for ourselves, to defend the system and to tell people why we have that system.
We should tell people—because it is true—that if they pay someone less than a GP is paid, but demand, as they would not demand of a GP, that that person should then run—