Leading article: Brave hearts?

Thanks to the expenses scandal, the last Parliament has already gone down in history as a rotten legislature. Is the collection of MPs which gathered in the House of Commons yesterday to mark the opening of the new Parliament likely to be any more fondly remembered by posterity?

In some respects, the chamber can already be seen as an improvement. The new Parliament is more representative of the country at large, with more female, more ethnic minority, and more gay MPs than before. And having witnessed the torments of their predecessors over expenses, the new intake is most unlikely to be as cavalier with their second-home allowances.

But these MPs do not need merely to be clean. They need to be brave. For where this Parliament really needs to prove itself is in its relations with the executive. Britain needs a self-confident legislature, prepared to stand up to the Government if it tries to use legislation as a public relations exercise, or to ram through badly written laws.

Parliament's name has rarely been so low. The challenge and the opportunity for this new crop of parliamentarians is to raise it back up to where it belongs.

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