Public 'think Commons has something to hide'

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Indy Politics

*The House of Commons's legal challenge to the publication of MPs' expenses suggests they have something to hide, Westminster's anti-sleaze chief said yesterday. Sir Christopher Kelly, the chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, described the appeal to the High Court as "unfortunate".

He also said he had raised concerns with Michael Martin, the Commons Speaker, about the lack of independent input into a review by MPs of their expenses. His committee is threatening to conduct its own inquiry if it is not satisfied with the internal review headed by Mr Martin.

Asked whether the Speaker understood public concern about the parliamentary allowances regime, Sir Christopher told the BBC: "I have no reason to think otherwise. On the other hand, the decision to appeal against the information decision about disclosure of expenses was unfortunate ... because it does suggest that there is something to hide."

The Commons authorities faced criticism when they launched the appeal against a freedom of information ruling last month. It is expected to cost the taxpayer more than £100,000. On the Members' Estimate Committee's review, Sir Christopher said he could think of no similar example of "self-interested" individuals overhauling their own allowances.