Peter Hoskin

What do the Legg letters mean for the Kelly Review?

What do the Legg letters mean for the Kelly Review?
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As the Legg controversy continues along its unedifying course, I can't help but wonder what it all means for Sir Christopher Kelly's review of the expenses system, due for publication in a few weeks' time.  The plan is that the government will go through its recommendations, adopt any it likes, and then put them to a vote in the Commons.  But will Brown now back away from the more radical proposals, from fear of aggravating the Parliamentary Labour Party even further?  Will MPs now be more tempted to dismiss Kelly's ideas out of hand?  This is, after all, yet another independent review, commissioned by Brown, which will contain suggestions you imagine will be less-then-popular with our political class.  I guess time will tell, but there's the very real possibility that we will have had two prolonged investigations which result in little more than a further erosion of public faith in Parliament.

The upshot of that is that this expenses scandal may – for good or ill – strengthen the case against independent reviews.  Yes, I know there are problems with having the current crop of MPs decide on matters themselves – as David said earlier, a general election may be the only way to solve those problems.  But it's striking that many of the swiftest, most sensible answers to the scandal (and I'm thinking of Cameron's general response when I say this) have come from inside the parties themselves.  Not that that's any consolation for Brown.  As he's discovering at the moment, it takes party discipline to manage that kind of thing.