Sunday 7 February 2010

Legg is a symptom of the problem, not the solution

I am sure Sir Thomas Legg is a decent and honourable man. But nevertheless he illustrates a wider problem, and is guilty of some of what he criticises in MPs.
All my working life has been spent in small, usually family-owned private companies. The mindset I am used to is one of acute cost-consciousness, of always looking for the least expensive way of achieving the required ends. Of counting every penny.
Sir Thomas moves in the lofty world of the "great and good", where such a penny-pinching focus would be regarded with distain; in his world, his deliberations are of an importance far removed from the vulgar mundanities of mere cost. The cost is a blank cheque to be signed by others.
The Legg report declares that "Proportionate limits on [MPs'] expenditure must be taken to have been in force".
But nobody should be above any thought of value, of what bill they are giving the public.

Is it too much to expect that, as Sir Thomas spent £1.16 million clawing back £1.12 million, he should have given a moment's thought himself to proportionality and restraint in the use of taxpayers' money?