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Suu Kyi takes a back seat while PM talks X Factor

When it was pencilled into the Downing Street diary, a press conference alongside Aung San Suu Kyi must have seemed like a straightforward engagement for David Cameron.

Instead, the Burmese opposition leader looked on as the Prime Minister grappled with a question about boyband star and X Factor judge Gary Barlow.

It was a surreal moment that almost compared with the grilling the PM received over when he last ate a Cornish Pasty.

Barlow's generous tax arrangements, alongside those of comedian Jimmy Carr, propelled the issue of tax avoidance up to the top of the agenda. Yet, in spite of leading the news for most of the week, the tax-dodging celebrities didn't get a huge amount of floor time in the House of Commons.

The exception was Shadow Leader of the House Angela Eagle, whose clashes with Sir George Young were among the most entertaining sessions of the week.

She told MPs Barlow had "given a whole new meaning to the phrase Take That". Why, she inquired, was the Tory-supporting X Factor judge - recently made an OBE - spared the sort of criticism Cameron levelled at Jimmy Carr?

It was a surprise that the furore did not make it into Prime Minister's Questions, where William Hague reminded Tory supporters of what might have been with a quick-witted display against Harriet Harman.

The NHS dominated and there was no mention of Carr and Barlow for the rest of the week.

This week, however, we anticipate plenty more mentions of celebs and their tax returns as George Osborne takes to the despatch box for Treasury Questions. Expect to hear lots of talk of Tory supporters and their tax arrangements, repetitions of Osborne's "morally repugnant" Budget speech soundbite and questions over the lack of action since that day.

There's an easy response to this one for the Government - and that is the failure of the Blair and Brown regimes to tackle the issue, which would not have felt anything like as toxic during the boom years. Certainly, the public mood appears to be hardening. Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude was panned recently after suggesting that being described as a "tax haven" would be a compliment for Britain.

Groups like UK Uncut have worked tirelessly to bring tax avoidance to the nation's attention in recent years.

But I like to think that all this could be food for thought for those who forecast a Twitter-based future and the demise of newspapers. A good old-fashioned newspaper investigation brought the kind of exposure that protesters occupying Fortnum -amp; Mason last year could only dream of.

That's why the Government is now under pressure to act - and why Barlow and Carr could be facing heftier tax bills.