40 MPs Shake Hands With Bercow As ‘Rotten Parliament’ Comes To An End

(Telegraph) – THE SO CALLED “rotten” Parliament finally came to an end last night as MPs left the House of Commons closed for the last time before the election.

As the final parliamentary session concluded, around 40 MPs lined up to shake hands with John Bercow, the Speaker, as they left the chamber.

Some of those who have made the most notorious expense claims – including Sir Nicholas and Ann Winterton, the Conservative MPs – were filmed laughing with Mr Bercow. Sir Nicholas left on the brink of tears.

Other departing MPs who shook hands with Mr Bercow included former Cabinet ministers James Purnell and Des Browne, Christopher Fraser, and Andrew MacKinlay.

The scenes will draw to an end one of the most discredited periods in Parliamentary history following the expenses scandal.

In total more than 150 MPs will not be returning after announcing their retirement, a record number. More could still yet declare that they do not intend to stand at the election.

Well-known figures to be leaving Parliament include Ian Paisley, Michael Howard and John Prescott.

Up to another 20 Labour MPs are thought to be involved in last-minute negotiations and are said to be coming under pressure from Downing Street aides to step down.

The group of MPs leaving at the election will benefit from “golden parachute” payments worth up to a year’s salary.

MPs will now have to vacate their offices and either return to their constituencies to campaign or prepare for their retirements.

The end of Parliamentary proceedings brings to an end the “wash-up” period. Labour and Conservative ministers have spent the past few days in negotiations agreeing which legislation will be fast-tracked through Parliament.

The end of the Parliamentary session was formally announced in the House of Lords, with MPs crowding into the upper chamber.

Several key proposed laws have been dropped including three tax rises and changes to laws surrounding libel.

However, the Conservatives backed down in a row over laws allowing the authorities to keep DNA evidence for up to six years. The issue is expected to be seized upon by Gordon Brown today.

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