It's terrible - with this recession there are many families in Britain who can't even afford to bribe an MP. The going rate of £1,000 per day is just out of the question for the less-well-off, those who are worrying about how to pay their spiralling bills. For many, it's tough choice between bribing your MP and having a much-needed holiday or even a trip to the dentist for a few fillings.
Did nobody warn Patrick Mercer (LibLabCon party) that there had been stings before and might possibly be stings again? Mr Mercer, who is a vicar's son, an Oxford graduate and an long-serving army officer, has suffered terribly for his mistake of judgement - he has resigned from the LibLabCon and can no longer take the whip. He has nothing left but his job, his salary, his expenses and his far from stingy pension to look forward to.
Rates for bribing a peer of the realm are just as inflated. In the House of Lords, that unelected geriatric care home for aging politicians, Lords Cunningham, Laird and McKenzie are alleged to have been demanding as much as £144,000 per year. Honestly, that is quite out of the range of all but the top few billionaires! If you are just an average sort of person who wants to do a little string-pulling, make introductions and have a cosy chat on the Terrace of the House of Lords with selected friends - forget it.
What is the point of being in the EU if it doesn't bring in a standard rate for hiring a representative? I want the same rates here as in Romania and Bulgaria.
At least David Cameron has done something to solve the problem. He has called for an official list of all lobbying companies so that MPs in doubt can check whether they are bona fide or not. Well, that should prevent any embarrassing mistakes in future! Mr Mercer may not be the last of his kind, but he will be the last to be caught. Phew!