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As Sir Thomas Legg's report on MPs' expenses is published, David Cameron must ensure again that the Conservatives provide the most robust reaction to the public anger

Picture 10 The review of MPs' previous expense claims has been published this morning and you can read all 241 pages of it here.

The headline figures are that Sir Thomas Legg recommended £1.3 million of expenses for repayment, with that amount reduced by £185,000 after the appeals to Sir Paul Kennedy.  Only 48% of the MPs and former MPs concerned had "no issues arising from the review". The biggest single repayment is from Barbara Follett, the Labour MP for Stevenage who is standing down, who is having to repay more than £42,000.

The media coverage today and in tomorrow's papers will certainly be grim reading for many MPs as they are reminded that the public anger about these issues has not subsided since the Daily Telegraph set the ball rolling last year.

David Cameron's response back then was by far the most robust of the party leaders. He ensured that the Conservative Party led the way on transparency, unilaterally publishing the repayments being made by Conservative MPs last June and publishing the Shadow Cabinet's repayments demanded by Sir Thomas Legg last October, for example.

It has also been David Cameron who made the running on how to cut the costs of politics with a significant speech on the subject last September - points which he has re-iterated again in today's Telegraph.

Mr Cameron must continue to show that he understands this public anger and not allow other political leaders to steal a march on him. Making a solid commitment on introducing powers to recall MPs would be a good way of doing this. Gordon Brown has belatedly been making mutterings on the matter over the last weeks or so, but David Cameron was talking in such terms as long ago as last May.

Jonathan Isaby


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