RETURNING, if you will pardon me, to the peculiar business of Hyndburn councillors being allowed by local government minister John Prescott to keep £17,400 in wrongly-paid expenses for attending meetings they had no right to claim for, we hear that hard-pressed taxpayers are to get some £2,600 back after all -- partly because several councillors had claimed for the meetings twice.


We are told that the government's generous dispensation over this dosh is "because there has been no intention to misappropriate council money and because this situation has arisen out of a failure by the council to check expenses properly."

How comforting it is to find that this combination of innocence and slackness was doubly at work.

Perhaps those councillors who did claim twice will say who they are and, moreover, explain what caused them to forget they had already bunged in incorrect claims for allowances before they repeated the unfortunate error.

May we be told? I only ask -- and have not ratepayers a right to know?