David Laws set for ministerial return in autumn?

So says The Sun, oracle of all political prophesy, and (as we now know) superbly connected to the occupant of Number 10:

OUTED Treasury chief David Laws is lined up for a surprise return to Government in the autumn, The Sun can reveal. PM David Cameron plans to hand the expenses scandal MP a new role – probably in the Cabinet Office. … Mr Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg believe his peace-making skills within the Coalition will outweigh any backlash about his frontline return. Mr Cameron told a confidant: “Nick and I want David back. September or October is not too early. We need him back as soon as possible. It’s very important for us now to have more voices like his inside Government.” …

Mr Laws, whose high intellect is respected on both sides of the Coalition, is seen as a man to bridge the gaps. The Yeovil MP may also be asked to take on some of Mr Clegg’s workload. Mr Laws repaid £56,000 after resigning as Treasury Chief Secretary for claiming excessive rent. Ironically, he could have claimed even more had he been out of the closet.

In May, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards identified breaches by Mr Laws in claiming expenses, but crucially made clear that he accepted the motivation had been maintaining privacy and not financial benefit. As I commented back then:

Quite simply, this was a man who went to extraordinary, and wrong-headed, lengths to protect his privacy. And in doing so, incidentally, saved taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds. If justice truly is blind, then David Laws will be rightly restored to government before long.

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Keith Watts 6th Aug '11 - 4:17pm

    Instead of whom?

  • Disgraceful – absolutely definitely, without doubt not voting LD if this shyster returns to office. Where have your principles gone?

  • Andrew Suffield 6th Aug '11 - 5:25pm

    this shyster

    The evidence is in and you have been proven wrong.

  • I have to agree with bazsc.

    I don’t really care what the parliamentary standards have said, as far as i am concerned David Laws was found “guilty” of breaching expenses claims and parliamentary standards, No matter what his motives where “to protect his privacy” He was still suspended from parliament which is hardly a trivial matter.

    If David Laws is returned to government it will show just how out of touch the Government and this party really are with the public.

    If I was employed as a Long Distance Lorry Driver and was entitled to claim £150 in overnights expenses and £50 Food allowance
    but instead, decided to drive through the night to get home to my partner, And instead of claiming the £200 I would have been entitled too, I helped myself too £100 worth of goods from the back of my lorry, would that be wrong?
    After all, by taking it off the back of the truck, i saved the company £100

    Of course it would be wrong and I would be treated accordingly. I see no difference in this case with Laws

  • Actually Andrew Suffield I have not been proven wrong – he was found guilty of having misrepresented his expenses (hence being suspended for 7 days). It has never been answered by him why he was claiming maintenance expenses as well for this property when he was supposedly a tenant – incidental expenses which dropped significantly when he had to produce receipts.

    If you read the judgement you will see there were serious breaches – not just linked to mortgage payments. In my view the commissioner gave him too much benefit of the doubt and if this had been rebvealed at the height of the scandal I think there would have been much more to come of this as it was a more serious breach that most of thiose that made the front page.

    He also fought the election without saying anything – not giving his constituents the right to judge him as they judged many others.

    I know people who have claimed wrongly and also claimed erroneously but for the best of intentions. When found out they were all prosecuted.

  • The impact of this, should it happen, on the electorate is minimal. The public don’t care much and if they are going to tag politicians as expense fraudsters they will have done so. What it does do, however, is remove the ability of the Lib Dems to claim that they are different from the rest and there is no new politics. And if the Lib Dems are no different from the rest then they have no USP.

    Another nail in the coffin of a party that once promised to clean up politics and democracy.

  • Before the scandal broke how would Laws, Clegg or Cameron have considered similar claims from someone accused of benefit fraud for a similar reason (privacy rather than financial gain)?

  • Tony Dawson 6th Aug '11 - 7:32pm

    “I know people who have claimed wrongly and also claimed erroneously but for the best of intentions. When found out they were all prosecuted.”

    Oh yes, and who might these criminal well-intentioned mates of yours be? or did they ‘get off’?

  • It’s a shame that Laws felt unable to be open about his sexuality as it has tarnished him, possibly for good ( or at least a few years).

    Matt – Your analogy isn’t a very good one. Laws didn’t do something that was different to what he could have done for more. He simply didn’t reveal that the person he was living with was his bf.

  • Sam

    I am sorry but that is particularly naïve – by not telling the truth he pocjeted 59000 that he was not entitled to. Noone made hime claim. The analogy is correct in that one of the defences we commonly see was that he could have claimed more

    If it had been someone claiming housing benefit they would have been prosecuted

  • @sam

    “Matt – Your analogy isn’t a very good one. Laws didn’t do something that was different to what he could have done for more. He simply didn’t reveal that the person he was living with was his bf.”

    I disagree, I think it is a perfectly good analogy
    Laws would have been entitled to claim X amount openly,honestly and legitimately , without disclosing his sexuality to the public or media. After all many “friends” & or “Business Partners” have joint financial commitments & Mortgages.
    The fact however is, You can not claim rental expenses for property that is owned or mortgaged by either a Partner, Relative or Business Partner.
    The rules are very clear on that matter.
    Laws made a personal choice to claim X amount and falsify his claims with misleading information.

    It is of no difference if the amount claimed “Dishonestly” was for less than what could have been claimed if he was honest. The fact remains that rules where broken and it shows a complete flaw in someones character.

    As was pointed out by bazsc. David Laws fought his “Re-election” without declaring anything to electorate, in fact he went out of his way to promote himself as whiter than white with regards to his expenses claims.
    Many other MP’s who had been exposed in the expenses scandal prior to the election and had “questionable” marks in regards to their expenses, fought the election with their constituents having full knowledge of the facts. This was not the case with David Laws, as he managed to keep his skeletons in the closet till after being re-elected.
    The constituents are not having their chance to have their say on this matter till the next General election, which in my opinion would make it even more perverse for laws to be returned to cabinet before the electorate have been given the opportunity to vote with the ballot paper

  • Andrew Suffield 6th Aug '11 - 7:58pm

    he pocjeted 59000 that he was not entitled to

    Another lie about a disproved claim.

    Laws lied to protect himself from homophobic abuse; here we see a person lying for no purpose beyond hurling abuse at a political opponent.

  • Andrew Suffield

    Can you tell me why it is a ‘lie’ – and why does claiming money you are not entitled too get equated with homophobic abuse?

    Quoted from report

    I consider that Mr Laws’ breaches of the rules in respect of his second home claims were serious. I have no evidence that Mr Laws made his claims with the intention of benefiting himself or his partner in conscious breach of the rules. But the sums of money involved were substantial. He made a series of breaches. Some of them continued over a number of years and despite specific and clear changes made to the Green Book

    He claimed 56000 that he was not entitled too because of the circumstances in which he was living. He also claimed 2000 in building work. If you then read some of his responses to the committe they are weak. In other circumstances where people have claimed government allowances such as this they will get prosected. If people misclaim expenses at work they will be at the minimum sacked but for 56K I imagine there would be fraud prosecutions

    The mitigation the commisssioner found gave him too much the benefit of the doubt but that is a matter of opinion. You think otherwise. I find nothing honorable about agreeing to pay back money that has been misclaimed and the absence of evidence is not absence of guilt. Perhaps if it had gone to court it would have been investigated more thoroughly.

    What I do not appreciate is being called a liar – there are no lies in any of my statements and I would appreciate you withdraw it. It was also the implicit in your comment that my comments are linked to homophobia – I take this as an insult and again would ask for it to be withdrawn

  • @bazsc

    I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    In my opinion there was nothing in your post that was not true or was in anyway defamatory.

    I also found nothing in your comments to be homophobic, that coming from a openly gay guy as well. To be honest, I am pretty tired of hearing the same old excuse “I was trying to protect my privacy and sexuality”
    As a gay guy, I am constrained to the same set of rules and laws as a heterosexual couple.
    With regards to the Department of work and pensions and the “Public Purse” my cohabiting status with my same sex partner would be taken into consideration when receiving any “public funding” and that is how it should be.

    If I had done what David Laws had done, I am sure I would be up before the courts.

    I fail to see how Mr Laws would believe that by “misleading” his parliamentary expenses he was protecting his privacy.
    I am sure that the parliamentary expenses department would not have disclosed to the media or too anyone else for that matter, “if he had of had a joint mortgage with Mr Lundie” and even if somehow the information was leaked, I am sure with Mr Laws and Mr Lundie’s resources they would have been more than capable of doing what the rest of the elite does when it comes to the media and gained a super injunction 🙂

    In my opinion Mr laws made a very conscience decision with regards to his expenses knowing very well what standards are expected of an MP who serves in public office.

    No matter what way people try to dress this up, there is right and there is wrong, and in this case Mr laws was wrong, hence the parliamentary suspension. He should certainly not return to government and it is a shame that his constituents have not been given a proper opportunity to voice their opinions on the ballot paper

  • Hi Matt

    Thanks for the support – I am not sure why he used the word ‘liar’ – I don’t think I have called anyone that on a board and I await his apology with interest!!!

    I can understand why Mr Laws may have wanted to keep his sexuality to himself, although it is still a sad indictment if it was because he was worried at the response of friends and family. If that is the case he has my sympathy

    It does not, however, allow him to do what he did and to be honest I am with you and I find it difficult that this was all done by accident. I think the Commissioner was very kind to him in his comments but on the major points of fact he was found wanting. I am also very disappointed about the fact he kept it quiet until after the election.

    There are many LD I respect who deserve support and promotion – Laws should not be considered for a Government job – in my view ever again but at the very least until he has put himself up for reelection. Perhaps he could do a David Davies and force a by-election. At least that would give him some credibility

  • Charlie George 7th Aug '11 - 8:27am

    Mr Laws ought to have been prosecuted. In my opinion he’s very lucky to escape jail. He claimed money he shouldn’t have claimed (and money he knew he shouldn’t have claimed). Homophobic abuse has nothing to do with it and certainly isn’t a legal defence. The whole episode is shameful, made worse by the worst aspects of party politics – people who will not, ever, concede that the man was in error. Just to remind people again:

    You can not claim rental expenses for property that is owned or mortgaged by either a Partner, Relative or Business Partner. Not to mention maintenance for a property that isn’t yours.

    This probably won’t stop me voting Lib Dem as I have pretty much decided that after tuition fees and ‘keep the tories out’ but it would restore some faith if Mr Laws were treated approately and not accepted back into government – the arrogance of a move like that is breathtaking.

  • All those bitter and ‘saints’ on here – get real. He who hasnt sinned …..

    The matter has been dealt with – lets get on & use everyone with talent to get us out of the mess we are in.

  • Firstly a ‘liar’ and now a ‘bitter saint’

    Well I am most definitely not a saint but neither have I been found guilty of claimeing 10’sK to which I was not entitled. If I had done I would have expected to have been sacked and then found it difficult getting a job at the same level of authority.

    But then again I am just a pleb!

    You cannot sack him as MP (although he could do the honorable thing and stand down) but you can prevent him being given ministerial office again. He should not be considered for anything until he has faced his electorate again, one of his many sins being that he kept quiet about this before the GE, going as far to allow himself to be sold as clean

    It may be this story is froth but the response of LD (I assume members here) saying that it does not matter and he is fine to return shows such a long way the party has fallen. What happed to trying to clean up politics?

    As said above by ‘g’ if you are no better than the others then what is your new USP?

  • Patrick Smith 7th Aug '11 - 11:17am

    David Laws is a multi talented top table Liberal Democrat and deserves a second chance to progress and spear head policy in the Coalirion Governmnet that he was hard won under his tuterlage, energy and long hours.David Laws is also one of the best front -line Liberal Democrat media exponents and with will wide public respect and approval on return. Bring back David Laws!

  • Patrick Smith

    How can I withstand such a reasoned and well-articulated argument!

    Is this a wind-up?

  • Daniel Henry 7th Aug '11 - 12:13pm

    I thought our “whiter than white” approach at the last election was a bit lame. Needless to say, it blew up in or face once we getting down and dirty with real politics in Government.

    I think our preferred approach should be to push our reforming policies with promise of improving things rather than claim sainthood.

    Regarding Laws, it was a stupid thing to do, but I think it’s write clear that privacy rather than profit was his notice as he could clearly have claimed more if he’d been open about his sexuality.

    I’d like to see him back because the government needs him. Seeing as our coalition seems dead set on opening up the public sector to private sector outsourcing, he can already make sure that it.s done properly.
    I.e. gives democratically elected councils more power and choice rather than forcing them into a bad contact for the sake of privatization.

  • Daniel Henry

    It was stupid

    The commissioner accepted it was about privacy (generously imho) but that does not remove the fact that he was found guilty of serious breaches. If you read the evidence given then it mitigates some of things he did but there are things that still don’t stack up with this excuse (why did he claim building work, why did his claim reduce once receipts were mandatory?). He was lucky that he is rich enough to have been able to pay it back. If he had done the same thing but was poorer would the punishment have been different?

    In his living circumstances i.e. with his boyfriend he could not have claimed more. This is wrong. He could have claimed more if he had changed his living arrangements but he didn’t. Matt gives a good analogy above.

    I don’t care what his capabilities are – he did wrong and if he comes back now it shows that wrong-doing is no barrier. What message does that send out.

    Will we see the same leniency with those who are pretending not to cohabit to get more benefits?

    Why are the party so keen to pretend that this was just a simple mistake – did you have the same approach to the MPs of all other parties at the last election? Why not get Laws to step down and force a by-election in order to maintain legitimacy seeing he did not bother to come clean before the election?

  • I would have thought that the party would have taken stock of what had happened and is still happening to Tories, Camerons sense of judgement with the appointment of Andy Coulson saga.
    MP’s from other parties where outraged, including this one. the public and the media where also outraged and would not let the story go away.
    Do people really think the same will not be said about David Laws if he is returned to government?

    The Liberal Democrats are struggling as it is to regain any credibility from the public, quite frankly I am astonished at how naive and willfully blinded some members of the party are prepared to be.
    These are dangerous times for the party at present, with a dark cloud hanging over Chris Huhne and his possible departure from government, the public will be outraged if he was replaced with Mr Laws.
    The party really does seem like it is in self destruct mode at present.

    Of course the Tories want Laws in government, after all, he is far more to the right than most other Tory right wingers. It would be far better in the Liberal Democrats interests to let Laws become a real Tory.
    It’s about time the party looked for “New” talent which holds “values” that are more in line with its parties policies and constitution.

  • Patrick Smith 7th Aug '11 - 2:07pm

    David Laws is a multi talented,top table Liberal Democrat and deserves a second chance to progress and spear-head policy in the `Coalition Government’ that he fought so hard to bring into existence with his expertise, energy and long hours experience, in the bridging room.

    David Laws is also one of the gifted front-line team player media exponents and will widen public respect and approval on return.Bring back David Laws!

  • I forgot it’s ok if someone breaks regulations when they are really ‘talented’, but if you’re an average citizen who overclaims on housing benefit for ‘privacy reasons’ then you should be sent straight to gaol, as I’m sure the free market fundamentalist Laws earnestly believes.

  • Rob, it’s quite clear there is some terrible affliction rotting the Lib Dems from within. They’ve sacrificed ideals and principle for power and now they think that the rules on apply to the little people, not powerful, clever, men like Laws.

    I suppose though, if you’re only going to exist as a viable political party for as long as the Tories wants you to then why not try and grasp as much as you can for yourselves, the LDs are dead come the next election. There might even be a nice, safe, tory seat in it for the most talented liberals.

  • Fine, I am not opposed to “giving people a second chance”, but to suggest that the rather soft and lenient treatment meted out to David Laws amounts to much of a punishment is highly tendentious. This was an admitted offence that, as has been pointed out, would have led to sacking for gross misconduct in many jobs, and likely a fraud conviction and a jail sentence. In regard to the alleged quote by Cameron, hasn’t he learnt anything from the Andy Coulson incident, that to keep trying to employ people in trusted top posts with a recent history of not sticking within known and established principles and rules (and laws) shows questionable judgment at the least?

    Totally unconnected, surely it would be better to bring in cabinet ministers from the other wing of the Lib Dems to give a balance to this team from the economic right?

  • Nick (not Clegg) 8th Aug '11 - 9:18pm

    I don’t want to add to the debate abut whether Laws (or should that be OutLaws?) has been sufficiently punished for his offence or whether he deserves a second chance, but I agree wholeheatedly with the last sentence of Tim13’s comment.

    I can see why Cameron would value him as a member of his team; he must be deeply regretting replacing him with the inept Danny Alexander. But it’s such a right-wing oriented team already that to call it a Conservative/LibDem Coalition risks violating the Trade Descriptions Act. Laws’ reinstatement will certainly herald a further strengthening of the right

  • Old Codger Chris 8th Aug '11 - 9:48pm

    If it’s true, as stated in a Guardian piece, that Laws would have joined the Tories when Mrs T was PM if it hadn’t been for Clause 28, perhaps he can be persuaded to join them now. A fiscal Thatcherite and a man who claims £56k he wasn’t entitled to? Why has he not been expelled from the parliamentary party?

    He may indeed be brilliant – that’s a matter of opinion. He is dishonest – that’s a matter of fact.

  • Allan Heron 10th Aug '11 - 1:34pm

    The point about Laws saving money by his actions is grounds for dealing sympathetically in any punishment meted out ot him. It doesn’t take away from the fact that he engaged in fraudulent activities as a means of keeping his sexuality secret. I understand his motives but let’s not get way from the fact that he was completely and utterly in the wrong in acting as he did.

    However, I will be extremely concerned as a Liberal Democrat if Laws is given a place in the Cabinet. The man is fundamentally a libertarian rather than a Liberal. In his book on the coalition, he displays disdain bordering on contempt for the Party and its’ workings. It’s entirely typical of the kind of attitude that has resulted in the near-apocalyptic results of recent times. No more, please.

    I don’t have a problem with the coalition – my problem lies in the disastrous tactical decisions taken before, during and after the election which effectively made a rod for our own back. Laws was heavily involved in that and I’d rather have one less of same in the cabinet, thank you very much.

  • Kevin Colwill 11th Aug '11 - 9:52pm

    Laws claims he’s now open about his finances and his personal life. I call on him to be similarly open about his core political beliefs…come on, do the decent thing and join the Tories!

  • On the basis that Cameron and Clegg both think there should be no excuses for the actions of the kids on the streets nicking gear and that they are just criminals, can someone explain why Laws is allowed to get away with what he did with the excuse that it was all about his sexuality?

  • In fact, following on from what balbs has to say, Nick Clegg, I think could and should saythat what David Laws has done is so unacceptable that he cannot be allowed back into Government. As David Cameron said in another context, people should of course be given “second chances”, but that was not very evident in his approach to the street mayhem, which implied that anyone in any way caught up in those situations, even if they only nicked a bottle of water, or were given a T shirt, deserved all that was coming to them. Frankly that is a warped set of priorities, when set against his approach to Andy Coulson, a man who was known to have been involved in profoundly dodgy activity when he offered him a job, and failed to insist on full vetting.

    By ruling Laws out from further Govt office, NC could put some degree of water between LDs and Tories on a moral basis. Liberalism depends on a law abiding and moral approach to life. Without it, people simply can’t believe in it, and turn to right wing authoritarianism or creeds encouraging “sticking with your own” eg nationalism or class based politics.

    I think we have really reached a “fork in the road” in coalition. If our diagnosis of why this has happened coincides with that of the Tories, we will have steered well away from our compass as Liberals and Social Democrats. And if our diagnosis is indeed very different, then our prescription and medicine will also be very different.

  • “I consider that Mr Laws breaches of the rules in respect of his second home claims were serious. I have no evidence that Mr Laws made his claims with the intention of benefitting himself or his partner in conscious breach of the rules”
    Contributers here seem to think that (non-intentional) breaches of commons rules is the same as breaking the law! The police investigated and found no evidence of criminality. Of course you could say this was a whitewash, but where’s the evidence?
    If a lorry driver claims expenses via form 323, instead of form 156 which he feels unable to complete for personal reasons, this is not evidence of breaking the law. If he is then suspended for a year following which he faces demands that he never work again because of unproven assumption of fraud, (despite other lorry drivers have been receiving huge and unneecessary expense claims using form 156) that lorry driver has not been treated leniently.
    Besides, if the employer feels vindictive enough and manages to wrangle an instance of law breaking out of the case, this does not stop the fact morally the greedy lorry driver’s behaviour is worse than he who was found “guilty” via a technicality.

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