Peter Hoskin

It’s Legg time

It's Legg time
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Consider the expenses wound well-and-truly reopened – not that it ever really closed in the first place.  Sir Thomas Legg's report into the matter will today identify around 350 MPs who have to return a total of about £1 million in dubious claims.  What's more, in his introduction to the document, Legg is set to attack MPs in general for "knowingly" encouraging and exploiting a "culture of deference" in the Parliamentary fees office.  The papers are calling it "devastating".

But what will it all come to?  The worry is that Legg's report won't draw a line under the whole stinking affair – but will instead kickstart a new round of grumbling, backbiting and reprisal on the part of MPs.  Will, for instance, those MPs who lost their appeals against Legg be happy to let the matter rest there?  And will other MPs be emboldened by Sir Paul Kennedy's apparent criticisms of the Legg process? If so, there are a few ways they could all cause trouble – from calling for a review into the review, to simply voting against it in Parliament.  Even compliance could be done more or less reluctantly: those MPs who do not pay back the money initially will have it deducted from their salaries or severance packages come election time.

We will have to wait and see.  But one thing's for certain: Brown, Cameron and Clegg will be hoping against anything that could call their party disicpline into question in the run-up to the election.  Especially as today might also bring scandals of another sort.