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Regret at career cut short

Nick Robinson | 23:11 UK time, Saturday, 29 May 2010

It is hard to remember a ministerial career so short which has made more impact or a resignation that has been greeted with such widespread regret.

David LawsDavid Laws clearly decided that he could not simultaneously deal with outing himself, defending himself against charges of abusing expenses and being the public face of the coalition's cuts.

His departure robs the government not just of a powerful partnership at the Treasury but of another vital pairing behind the scenes - that between the new Chief Secretary Danny Alexander and Oliver Letwin who shaped, and have been managing, the coalition's policy agreement.

This morning I wrote that my hunch was that David Laws could survive. I should have paid more attention to my previous paragraph which made clear that although he'd acted to protect his privacy he'd done so, ultimately, at public expense. A position which he obviously felt he could not justify.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    David Laws had to go - his defence that the man with whom he had a relationship with was not defined as a 'partner' simply was not credible.

    But what is it with the LibDems? Why do they not have any black or Asian MPs, and so few women MPs? And why do their gay MPs feel compelled to hide the fact? Perhaps the LibDems aren't as liberal as they like to think they are?

  • Comment number 2.

    The government parties would prefer to abide by the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law when it comes to Davis Laws, it seems. When it comes to the abuse of taxpayers money I call for the weight of the letter of the law to fall on the abusers. We the taxpayers cannot hide from the painful cuts and tax rises about to hit us. It makes me furious that an MP - a millionaire about to make us all poorer - can behave as Mr Laws has behaved and expect not to get caught. His excuse is feeble and bordering on patronising. I have sympathy for Mr Laws but I have no sympathy for his supporters who want to gloss over his blatant abuse of taxpayers money in favour of his skilled political abilities. I'm glad he is gone from government. I'm sure his rich friends will look after him. Who will look after the taxpayer?

  • Comment number 3.

    The fact he was so hypocritical last year about other MPs expenses hardly helped him.

    If he wanted to protect his privacy that much then why claim at all?

    Or he could have designated his Constituency home as his second home and claimd for that and no one would have been any the wiser.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    One can feel sorry for David Laws but that is mere sympathy. What he did was wrong as misuse of public funds to put 40k since 8 years ago into the trouser pocket of your secret partner is still an abuse of public funds and for that David Laws is absolutely right to have resigned.

    All other recriminations aimed at him as to his secrecy, his sexual orientation, his sad lack of personal and political acumen and his loss to the Coalition, etceteras - all pale into insignificance as what he did was wrong and not in the interest of his constituents (nor the wider general populace) who elected him thinkng he was one of the few politicians who had not abused parliamentary expenses in the past few years.

    More worryingly, The Daily Telgraph have obviously known about this issue for a while. I have two thoughts on why they waited until now to launch this expose ... one it was timed perfectly and targetted probably the most 'likely lad' in David Cameron's Treasury Team to achieve more sales and, secondly, I am thinking that David Laws is not going to be the last expose for pilfering and plundering the parliamentary expenses that The Daily Telegraph have got up their sleeve.

    Who is next for the Telegraph karate chop?

  • Comment number 6.

    I am so glad that we have entered into a new era of politics.

    Messrs Cameron and Clegg promised that this parliament would be different from before. I am frankly sickened to hear all this nonsense about David Laws being an honourable and decent man and that they hope that he will be back shortly. Worse still that they are trying to say it is a witch hunt because he is gay. No, it is more to do with the fact that he broke the rules over a number of years and claimed £40,000 of taxpayers money that he shouldn't have done. This from the man who was seeking to cut thousands of government jobs to save money!

    If Laws was so embarrassed by his relationship and wanted to keep it secret, fair dues, but then what the heck did he think that he was doing by claiming these expenses on the public accounts? If he was so wealthy, he could have paid for it out of his own money and no one would have been any the wiser.

    Pathetic. Nothing has changed.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    The behaviour of the Daily Telegraph has been utterly disgusting. Just to sell a few extra papers they have destroyed the career of an honourable public servant who was using his prodigious talent to improve the lives of everyone in this country.

    Not only that, but they have covered essentially a sensationalist revelation of a private individual's sexuality within a thin veneer of expenses, when he claimed less than he could have done.

    The telegraph should consider the pivotal function they share with the rest of the media as intermediaries between the public and government, and not put their profits above the public good, especially at this difficult time for the country.

    I hope people take notice of the selfish and dishnourable nature of the paper and contrast this with the dignity of David Laws.

  • Comment number 9.

    Danny Potter simply does not have the authority and credibility to take on the role of Chief Secretary. Anyway, shouldn't he be at home revising for his GCSE Economics exam?

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    'greeted with such widespread regret'
    He cheated on the taxpayer!
    He knew the rules!
    He was living with a partner!

  • Comment number 13.

    While I'm pleased to see a minister stand down when he can't justify his actions, rather than making excuses and deflecting, it saddens me that people still feel unable, in the 21st century, to acknowledge their sexuality. Perhaps, if Britain were a little warmer toward it's lgbt citizens, he would only ever have been the public face of the coalition's cuts... granted, that would be a difficult role to look good in at the best of times, but that alone could have been bearable.

  • Comment number 14.

    I feel very sorry for David Laws - this last week he gave what could well be the Parliamentry "Performance of the Year" during the Urgent Question on the Spending Cuts, demolishing the last governments policy and quibbles and at the same time winning over the Tory right wingers with his answers.

    The Telegraph has chosen to try to demolish a good mans life in the same fashion as the News of the World have tried to do with Lord Triesman and the Duchess of York. If the Telegraph had done what they have done to David Laws private life to Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and David Cameron and their family lives, the nation would have jumped down the newspapers throats with force.

    What the Telegraph have done to this good man, who is still innocent until proven otherwise, and to his private life, for me is beyond words I can use on this site.

    Yes, politics has to be made totally clear, but do elected politicians have to declare everything about their lives to be persil-white for the press? I'm sure the voters of Yeovil have been very happy with David Laws without knowing about all the details we know now about his private life.

    Also, can I add that my respect for Vince Cable and his very measured comments on this sad situation had increased immensly.

  • Comment number 15.

    At the end of day, it had nothing whatsoever to do with David Laws' sexuality, but everything to do with his false expenses claims. Sadly, it seems the result is that the country has lost potentially one of the best Chief Secretaries of the Treasury for many years.

  • Comment number 16.

    Amen to that.

    Shame. Hope he's back soon.

  • Comment number 17.

    Sorry...if this had been a person on benefits attempting to claim that living under the same roof for years (and probably sleeping in the same bed) was basically a landlord / lodger 'relationship' the excuse would have been laughed out of court!

    To me, this is just another example of how people in Westminster don't in any way relate to people in the real world.

  • Comment number 18.

    I really dont understand how david laws a supposedly very able and intelligent man could possibly think he could get away with this.

    Even more so that with all the outrage over expenses that the incoming government didnt make sure before appointment that all its new ministers were cleaner than clean, and how did the claims department not notice,or is it as suspected a whitewash job thats being done.

  • Comment number 19.

    Whatever the ability of Mr Laws, and no matter that he felt unable to "out" his sexuality, the simple fact of the matter was that he abused the system, and it was made worse by the way his party campaigned on the premise they were above all the scandals of MP expenses.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think it was inevitable although as I have said before a great shame that such a talent has been lost. No one from the previous government felt it necessary to honourably stand down when they cover was blown and I believe they had far more cause i.e. Iraq, pornography and finally expenses. However, David Cameron did want a far more transparent government and if we are all to move forward in the present circumstances he had to lose this very capable man.

    I do hope that the witch hunt type of journalism will gradually leave the stage as I for one am utterly sick of this very sleazy type of reporting. Let us hope that the media will finally listen to the fact that this coalition is so far very popular and start to look towards quality journalism which will support rather than destroy. I still cannot quite understand why journalists want to attack the coalition instead giving them a chance to prove they can actually get this country back on its feet. I wonder if they have lost the art of good reporting or if they really do believe that joe public is only interested in destroying lives.

  • Comment number 22.

    He was a promising MP and Minister, you do wonder though at the irony of the "whiter than white" LibDems perhaps offering the downfall of the coalition.

    Cameron should grab Clegg by the collar and politely ask if there are any more skeletons in the closets, or any more unopened closets that might have some dirty washing tucked away, perhaps?

    He's gay, big deal, but to use taxpayers money to hide the fact is not on. And that's the problem. Personally I'd forgive him because I think, so far, he's come across pretty well. But I fear the majority of taxpayers won't.

    I'd like to see him back later in the parliament, if we can forgive (or forget) that toad Mandy......

    SW

  • Comment number 23.

    David Laws may have claimed £950 a month for London rent, but how much would a London mortgage have cost the taxpayer? How much would the mortgage on his Somerset house cost the taxpayer? At the end of the day it wouldn't surprise me to find the taxpayer saved money because of the way David Laws' housing claims were made to hide his sexuality from the stupidity of homophobia. With his background in banking his value as Treasury Secretary will be a bigger loss to the country in a time of emergency.

  • Comment number 24.

    I for one am sorry to see David Laws go.

    In Birmingham this weekend there is a huge "Gay Pride" festival and I find it sad and disappointing that however far we have gone in bringing in equality that he felt the need to have to keep a secret his sexuality in order to function as a politician.

    I am sure more will come out about his relationship and that he felt that he probably had to go for the best of the government but I find it sad that he felt the need to have to keep his sexuality a secret and that this need to keep it a secret has cost him his position in the cabinet.

    I fear for the sake of the UK economy and the UK taxpayer we will all be a considerable amount poorer for the loss of his undoubted abilities as a politician and a financial expert in government when we need it the most.

  • Comment number 25.

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  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    On balance as a Lib Dem supporter but also a good citizen I hope that he does come back on the basis of what we know so far.

    At this point it seems to be a failure on his part to recognize that his sexuality was, for the majority, not an issue.

    That said the good of the nation requires an executive beyond reproach.

  • Comment number 28.

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  • Comment number 29.

    Should he really have had to resign though? Vote in the poll on this blog - http://robgreenhalgh.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Nick Robinson:- "This morning I wrote that my hunch was that David Laws could survive. I should have paid more attention to my previous paragraph which made clear that although he'd acted to protect his privacy he'd done so, ultimately, at public expense. A position which he obviously felt he could not justify" - but you obviously thought he could Nick!

    Incidentally, why, when I listen to virtually any BBC current affairs programme do I hear Ian Dale "Conservative Blogger" uttering his sanctimonious clap trap?


  • Comment number 33.

    It would appear that the parlous state of the country does'nt count for a ball of string the way the some of the media and some idiot politicians behave when the average citizen sees the bottom drop out of his standard of living this crew will still be doing fine we require the best talent that is available to minimise the effect of the deficit but like the bid for the world cup the state of the nation does not match up to selling newspapers

  • Comment number 34.

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  • Comment number 35.

    I don't understand why he keeps being called "honourable" by various political figures. What is remotely honourable about claiming that the man you've lived with and had a relationship with for nearly a decade doesn't count as a "partner"?

    I couldn't care less if he's gay or straight. Nor do I understand why by claiming these expenses he in any way thought it kept his life private.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    Nick,

    I doubt this comment will appear here as all the comments have a strangely airbrushed look about them. Did you do Stalin at Oxford, did he have a moderator like the BBC? Like many thousands of others I was concerned about your performance after the election. I doubt that you have the necessary balance to be the BBC political editor, it's a tricky job, you're meant to keep a bit of professional distance from either side. I know you've worked hard for this coalition, but you have to accept that there are going to be problems. Your language is once again showing signs of partiality, Nick. I don't think the 'regret' is 'widespread' it's duck island with some peculiar shame about being gay, isn't it? It is ok to be gay and has been for some time now. This isn't a tragedy or anything. If he wanted to stay in a closet for some reason, he could have paid for it himself.

  • Comment number 38.

    Nick Robinson:

    It is a sad day when someone problems, required them to make the hard decision of cutting a potential good career short....

    (d)

  • Comment number 39.

    x= 42

  • Comment number 40.

    I just falt very sad and a bit angry on hearing about the first scandal of the New Coaliton Government.... 3 weeks since taking office. I don't think David Laws has done that much wrong although he is clearly in breach of the rules. His defence is also very weak on the basis that if you 'live' with someone for more than 18 months they are a common-law husband wife or partner so I guess his partner is his partner!

    Call me ignorant (although I did study economics) but his former role as Chief Secretary to the Treasury is much more one or communication and making balanced judgements than economic understanding. I wish Danny Alexander lots of luck... Hells Bells as a Country we certainly need it in the coming months!!

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm growing tired of people referring to his sexuality as his reason for resignation. I find it irrelevant that he's gay. What bothers me are his expenses claims and I think the media should focus more on that and not whom he chooses to be with.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    I think him wanting to keep his sexuality private is just an excuse. It was widely known amongst his colleagues he was gay.

    It has obviously worked as nobody is daring to ask the questions that would be asked had it been a women he was living with for ten years and claiming wasn't a partner.

    I'm not sure it matters how good he is either. Are we saying only crap politicians should be penalised for taking public money whereas smart ones should be allowed to get away with it?

    As a multi-millionaire, if he so wanted to keep it a secret why claim any money?

    There are many LGBT people who face real struggles in life - not many would use this as an excuse for taking money where they shouldn't - and then be called honourable for it; would they?

  • Comment number 44.

    If Mr Laws had been on benefit, his actions in claiming this sum for rent while in a relationship with his landlord/landlady would undoubtedly have brought him a visit from the fraud officers when discovered and likely have landed him with a gaol sentence. It is this double standard by those who have the brains and education to know better that angers ordinary people struggling to get by while millionaire politicians have no concept of what it means to be a member of the working poor who are likely to lose perhaps a million jobs in the coming austerity programme.
    Trying to deflect criticism using embarrassment over sexual preferences is a red herring.

  • Comment number 45.

    David Laws has NOW done the right and honorable thing and resigned. His sexuality is a smoke-screen about which no one really cares, so long as it doesn't affect his ability to carry out his ministerial obligations. End of subject.

    His judgment though, must be questioned. I seem to recall that he was present, in recent parliaments, throughout the expenses scandals of last year. Are we to believe that at no time did he think that his financial arrangements might not stand up to scrutiny? That nothing was even remotely, possibly wrong, with what he was doing? Not for one minute?

    Sorry, but this stretches credulity.

    The Lib-Dems set themselves higher than other parties, on the morality scale, during the last election. Now we see that the actions, of some of them, are equally questionable. Glass houses and stones, come to mind.

    Incidentally, why pick on the Daily Telegraph, as some bloggers seem inclined to do? The DT has again performed a great service to the country by exposing the hypocrisy of elected politicians.

    The 'you couldn't make it up department'
    I heard someone on BBC Radio (I believe a senior Lib Dem) saying that the country could not afford to lose someone of David Laws' talents over a thing like this, at a time like this! Unbelievable! (But sadly, true) If ever I am in court facing a charge, I want this person defending or judging me. I am sure, given such assistance, I can justify any illegal act!

    "Stealing, your honour? Yes, 'tis true but my client is needed to run the country or provide a living for his/her family so let's not get carried away with any kind of negativity, here. My client is far too important to the country, to be troubled by the laws of the country" (no pun intended!)

    The next right thing, for David Laws to do, is to resign his seat and set an example to his fellow MPs. We don't need a 're-call' system when people are prepared to do the decent thing.

    This Newslog is headed 'Regret at career cut short' - Regret? Why? The parliamentary standards commissioner will review the matter but, as stated earlier, Laws' judgment MUST be questioned. It is interesting that only after the DT raised the issue, I repeat, after, does, Laws' then consider referring the matter, himself.

  • Comment number 46.

    Had it been a reasonable figure I think he could argue that he hadn't done anything wrong, but 40k is just far too much. If I remember correctly it worked out to about 225 quid a week for a room in your gay lover's house - half that figure could have been argued to be fair and reasonable, but 225 pound is just excessive. I think it's a mistake that might not have been made if politicians weren't just so out of touch. They all need to spend time living on poor housing estates and with people working on minimum wage. I don't really care if ministers are paid 5 or 6 figure salaries, it's the fact they're out of touch, you can't understand someones point of view unless you live with them.

  • Comment number 47.

    The Liberals have a long history of their politicians going down because they are gay. Is it in revenge for the hetrophobic attitude of our ruling establishment?

    The media keeps on about the expenses scandal as if politicians of all stripes are to blame?

    Blair & Brown chose to curry favour with the electorate by showing Labour were frugal with the wages they awarded them selves. Yet telling their fellow politicians to bash their exspensenses as much as those in the EU Parliament. So MP's could double their incomes in this hidden way!

    The public will never forget Brown & Gorballs Mick redacting MP's exspenses records to hide the scale of what the public would think of as the fraud that had gone on all the while Labour was in power.

    This expenses scandle was nothing less than Labour Policy! The Daily Telegraph exposesed it for what it was. Trouble is we only remember moat cleaning not the size of the Balls Cooper tax avoidance fraud.

    Now Laws has been exposed for hidding he was Gay. Which is no longer a sin in Britain acording to the establishment. Plus hidding his living arrangements with his partner who some how is not his lover?

    Some of our best politicians have been caught in newspaper stings. Some peope have been paid more than this politician hid to give false whitness in Court for political advantage of Labour?

    So why is this brilliant economist out of a job until the media forgets what he has been caught at?

    The publics view on sexuality has been trampleled on due to Labours equality laws. Would he been out on his ear if it was a hetrosexual coupling he was hidding?

  • Comment number 48.

    As David Laws and his partner are not legally a couple I do not see how he has broken a rule disallowing payments to a spouse. If one of them had died, would the remaining partner have been allowed the tax breaks as a lawful spouse. I don't think so. Janice whicker

  • Comment number 49.

    On the one hand, I have to agree with #17 above that if this were a benefit claimant breaking the rules, they would have been punished. I remember a woman I knew telling me that she could not spend more than a certain number of nights with her boyfriend or they would be considered living together and her benefit status would change.

    On the other hand, I wish we were not such a mean and petty society. The trouble is, it is in the nature of the human condition that trust is not something we can afford. To that extent, politicians reflect all of us.

    In the same way that that woman I knew would eventually have had her benefits restored, I hope David Laws comes back as Chief Secretary. It's not like that job will run out of things to do.

  • Comment number 50.

    8. At 00:01am on 30 May 2010, steamedseabass wrote:
    I hope people take notice of the selfish and dishnourable nature of the paper and contrast this with the dignity of David Laws.
    ----------------------
    Oh come on! If it hadn't been for the exposure of the expenses scandal by the Telegraph we would be none the wiser and a corrupt system would still be flourishing.

    I have said earlier and elsewhere that the Telegraph may well have had a different agenda for bringing this out at the moment but I am afraid I too am a little piqued by the rush of colleagues to excuse his behaviour.

    He should have trusted his family and friends more. He was quite capable, if he is so intelligent, to work out that he had other ways of keeping his relationship secret had he so wished. There was no need to claim anything.

    If only politicians weren't so eager to excuse their own bad behaviour we might see a change in the attitude of the public to their minor misdemeanors but until they do we will continue to distrust and dislike them.

    David Laws made a huge error of judgement. Had he not done so there would be nothing for the Telegraph to report.

  • Comment number 51.

    I count himself a lucky one!if this news broke out during the general election, will he be elected?

  • Comment number 52.

    One word "GREED"

  • Comment number 53.

    David Laws has been hounded out of office by a press and public that is illogical, inconsistent and wrong, not to say spiteful and vindictive where many of the comments on Nick's blog are concerned.

    To the many who complain that it was clear David Laws was living with a "partner", and therefore that he "clearly" broke the revised rules, I point out that the word "partner" is explicitly defined in those rules * (though a lot of the press and BBC reporting has used the term partner or even quoted parts of the rules without adding that definition).

    The crucial wording in the formal definition states "... are living together and treat each other as spouses". The first part of this is probably "yes": most people would say they lived together for several years. The second part of this is a definite "no": an essential part of a marriage (which creates spouses) or a civil partnership is that it is declared to the world. In those formal cases, it is by using an open ceremony of some sort.

    On no reading of those words could a secret sexual relationship be described as "treat(ing) each other as spouses" - it is not the lack of a ceremony that counts since the rule says "treat each other" and is therefore looking at comparisons, but the lack of public acknowledgement means the test is failed, and so David Laws was not paying a "partner" in the context of the rules laid down by Parliament. That means he did nothing wrong under the rules, although we may all think it was unwise given the feeding frenzy that has erupted around Parliamentary expenses.

    A lot of people have said benefits claimants in this situation would be regarded as partners and such a claim would be illegal. That may well be true, but the regulations are explicitly different (whether or not that is fair). If the rules ought to be the same as for benefit claimants then that is/was up to Parliament to achieve, but it didn't.

    Post 143 to Nick's previous Blog said David Laws was doing the same as Jackie Smith who claimed the rent she paid to her sister, and she had to go, so what is different? NO, that is absolutely not true. What Jackie Smith did was to claim that the room she used in her sister's house was her "main residence", so she could claim back all the allowable costs attaching to her main family house in her constituency (potentially mortgage interest, running costs, repairs etc, up to the various limits). She argued this was within the rules based on time spent argument, and perhaps she was right, but it was certainly a way to maximise her claims compared to claiming what she paid to her sister. David Laws could have claimed more than double as much by simply buying the house in London and letting his friend stay with him (openly or in secret).

    Since David Laws is now gone, though to my huge regret (and I am not a Lib Dem), we must look to the future. We must all hope that Danny Alexander will be able to do a good job as Chief Secretary on behalf of us all, though he was obviously not the first choice three weeks ago. But however good he is, he now has even less time to get up to speed with the brief and play his part in major decisions that are important to all of us, and crucial to many lives around the country, before the first budget is presented in just over three week's time.

    People say we get the politician's we deserve. I fear that will soon be true, and not in a good way. Britain, we should be ashamed of ourselves, and I hope the Telegraph will now think about where we are going with all this. No, I don't urge them to spike a true story to cover up wrong-doing, but they do have a responsibility, with the rest of the press and the BBC, to report a story accurately, with all the relevant facts and, if necessary, nuances, to avoid the public being led into a condemnatory frenzy that is not borne out by the facts (or in this case, the rules).

    * The rules themselves are published on the web at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-finance-office/greenbook0907.pdf

  • Comment number 54.

    I am annoyed at those claiming this is the first scandal of the new government, did no-one else read about the continuing questions over Nadine Dorries? Nominating a tiny flat as her primary residence when it is in neither London nor her constituency; paying a friend £10,000 to produce a leaflet that could be knocked up in 5 minutes on a household PC, employing her daughters at £20,000 pa, and now slandering a political blogger in an article in her local newspaper.

    The fact that Laws has gone but Dorries remains in place is the biggest scandal here.

  • Comment number 55.

    I really don't care if a minister is gay, straight or bi. And who they share a bed with remains a matter of disinterest for me.

    What I do find objectionable is paying a partner rent for living with them at the expense of the public and then trying to justify it as 'we're not really partners because we have seperate finances and social lives'.

    That doesn't wash when a member of the public tries it with government departments, and it doesn't wash when it comes to claiming expenses from the public purse.

    He has my sympathy for being outed quite so publicly but he's only himself to blame for this.

  • Comment number 56.

    It is unbelievable that all the coaliton leaders have heaped praise on Mr Laws, he has been caught with his fingers firmly in the public till, any member of the public committing the same transgression would be immediately arrested. It speaks volumes for the lack of morals standards and the lust for power from Cameron and Clegg - Britian beware!!!

  • Comment number 57.

    I am Puerto Rican (therefore I speak as an observer from another country) The news of Mr. Laws resignation was a surprise for me because the Coalition has been around for less than month and he represents its first casualty. However as a foreign observer I would like to make the following recommendation: Read news about expenses scandals from around the world. I live in Puerto Rico and what politicians like Mr. Laws and Mrs. Smith (and others) did is nothing new (and not as bad) as what the politicians in Puerto Rico do. Here, the openly claim expenses that are unnecessary. When the media ask them about their expenses they justify them as constitutional. We have a representative who claimed $15,000 to remodel her office. Apart from that they claim expenses to hire their friends to work for them. So I say this: Yes, Mr. Laws (and any other MP who claimed illegally) has abused of the law and for that he must make amends to solve the problem but I advise prudence. There is no need to be alarmed in such a hurry, this type of scandal is nothing new in other parts of the world.

  • Comment number 58.

    Mr Laws is entitled to claim expenses for the purpose of funding and running a second dwelling near to parliament is he not? I realise his second dwelling (on both occasions) was owned by his partner, and his partner lived there also, but if Mr Laws had been single, and had to just go out and rent somewhere in London, he would have been paying even more anyway.

    He also ceased claiming at all in 2007, in case people thought it looked dodgy I guess. Bear in mind attitudes to homosexual relationships have changed over the recent years, so it's possible to see how he didn't necessarily think the "spouse" rule applied to him, especially when Mr Laws himself obviously found himself unable to come out about his homosexuality, suggesting he is surrounded by more traditional views, and thus feeling that "spouse" did not apply.

    I am neither a homosexual, or a Lib Dem supporter, and as such have no bias towards the man, but I feel saddened that his past has been spun against him in this fashion, and it would have been nice to see the guy flourish.

    Maybe I am being naive, but I think it's a very grey area as to whether he did anything wrong or not, and people are very quick to judge. If we got off politicians backs a little and stopped condemning them every time they seem to put a foot wrong, they may be able to do a better job without constantly having to worry about how every little move they make is perceived.

    A lot of people think they could do an MPs job with their eyes closed, personally I wouldn't do it for any amount of money.

  • Comment number 59.

    “It is hard to remember a ministerial career so short which has made more impact or a resignation that has been greeted with such widespread regret. “
    A month ago David Laws was arguing that an immediate cut in the Government spending deficit as proposed by the Conservatives would be disastrous for the “recovery” then, having joined in a coalition, his responsibility was to implement these very same cuts. The reason for this, apparently, was that the rest of Europe was making cuts so Britain should as well. These cuts would give “the Markets” confidence in the Euro we are told. And, after all, David Laws should know since he made his fortune from these same “Markets”. This is what made him, so they say, “good and honourable man”.
    How good and honourable is it to expect the public purse to pick up the bill for a ruse to hide one’s sexuality? Was the idea that “if I claim rent then no one will know that I’m gay”? What a sob story.
    There is a degree of hypocrisy running through the whole sorry story. Let’s be honest, prior to the coalition government no-one had heard of David Laws. Since the election he has announced billions of pounds of cuts that will increase unemployment, cut demand in the economy and may lead to further recession. His 3 weeks as Chief Secretary to the Treasury could well be remembered as the time when you though you may be able to trust the Liberal Democrats came to an end. The only thing that seems to count in this country is “the Markets” even though it must be obvious to the entire world that running an economy in this way is an economic, social, political and ecological disaster for the entire planet. It’s a only a shame he didn’t “out” himself as a conservative. His sexuality has nothing to do with this. It is basic lack of integrity on his behalf that bothers me.

  • Comment number 60.

    The correct thing to do, but what a hard way to go about it and with such high profile.

    These wealthy MP's really need to get to grips with changing how they behave with public money and should have learnt to come clean straight away, Given his personal situation and funding, I cannot understand why the tax payer needs to have any sympathy whatsoever with the situation, most people simply would not get away with these ridiculous expense claims and scams in other places.


  • Comment number 61.

    What Laws is guilty of is monumentally bad judgement.
    This matter of his living arrangements could and should have been arranged in a much better way but he chose to make it clandestine.

    This is a man who is aiming to help run the country and solve our problems. We need people who DON'T make major boo-boos.

  • Comment number 62.

    Dennis Laws Able? His first act was to take money from children! Now he has misused public funds to demonstarte that there is not much change in "new politics". He is a hypocrite and it is right that he has gone.

  • Comment number 63.

    The only question now, is, did the "non partner" of Mr. Laws declare this income in his Income Tax return under the room to let scheme? What do you think?

  • Comment number 64.

    I have just two words to say to all those obvious Labour supporters, who seem to be so indignant about David Laws alleged impropriety.....

    Peter Mandelson

  • Comment number 65.

    oh dear now the government replace a finance expert with a novice. And still the politicians don't get it about expenses, whinging to the committee and getting themselves a 4K payment. Politicians and Bankers both clearly not to be trusted - "in it to win it" the public have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting fair treatment from this lot.

  • Comment number 66.

    There you go Nick ...too close to the village. To the man on the Clapham omnibus Laws' actions and explanation beggared belief. He was no longer a credible Treasury Minister.

  • Comment number 67.

    In my opinion he new quite well he was in the wrong,he only admitted his wrong doing because he new he had been found out like many others before him, if he wanted a very private life, why did he except a very high public profile job.

  • Comment number 68.

    It must be a terrible shock to have lost a career for which David Laws was so suited.
    But in ordinary life if people break the rules they lose their job or their benefits if they claim in this sort of way, and the LIBDEMCON coalition is going to be cutting from the poor and the public sector in the next few months
    I wish him well

  • Comment number 69.

    the good thing:at least he made the 'honourable' decision to resign;
    the sad thing: as a grown intelligent man, he was unable to come to terms with his sexuality;
    the bad thing;: a numpty is taking his place!!!!

  • Comment number 70.

    Surely before assigning people into top positions, the parties should do their homework and look out for such indiscretions that will come back to bite them. Common sense really.
    Then again, if this checking was performed carefully, would there be anybody left?

  • Comment number 71.

    I don't read any of the despicable papers, but I see the end result here.
    A rich MP claimed money he didn't need. Now he is the face of cuts for people who do need the money. Not a good advert for the Lib-Dems.
    In common with a lot of people, I have no interest in his orientation, rather in the fact that in this era he felt the need to pretend to be straight, whilst in senior office - surely making him vulnerable to anyone knowing his secret. If his consituency would not have voted him in had he stood openly, then that's very sad and not fair, but I'm not sure MPS having these big secrets that their career hangs on is a good idea for the country.

  • Comment number 72.

    So nothing much changed from the last lot.

    Fortunately they are making lots of people redundant to free up the money for MP snouts in the trough.

    Just wondering if this is some sort of dodgy MP speed record?

  • Comment number 73.

    But how long has the Telegraph been sitting on this story and why break it now?

  • Comment number 74.

    Being gay these days, including in the Palace of Westminster, barely raises an eyebrow - and why should it? To me this seems like a convenient smokescreen to confuse the real issue which concerns expenses. Mr Laws' sexuality is completely irrelevant.

  • Comment number 75.

    I feel so incensed, not by David Laws but by the Telegraph for its shoddy, cheap, opportunistic journalism. They could have run this story any time. They haven't just 'found' this out, they have been waiting for a moment to cause maximum impact. This was NOT in the public interest, this was self obssesed, self interest by a newspaper, desperate for circulation. They could have run this story anytime in the last few months, why did they not do it during the election campaign? No they wait until David Laws is a high profile MP. I presume that the story might never have even got into the paper if he had been just a back bench MP?
    I am so sick and tired of the 'Holier than Thou' attitude of the press, their assumption to act as judge & jury in this Country without any countability to anyone. I assume that no journalist has ever, ever tweaked his expenses or for that matter made some derogatory remark after they have interviewed some one. Such angels aren't they!

    As I understand it David Laws is an extremely knowledgeable and intelligent man and just the person we need at what we are told is a time of crisis for this Country.
    So the Telegraph decide to run a story that they know will make him resign. Well done Daily Telegraph. The demise of the press should be high on the Government's agenda.

    One expects the tabloid press, the gutter press to behave in this way, so presumably the Telegraph is happy to sit within this group?

    I hope their readers will vote with their feet and not buy the paper and that businesses will keep their 'cheque books in the safe' and not advertise with them. What they have done was just not clever but just very immature and childish. Revealing David Law's private life so publicly was totally disgraceful they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Some people flaunt their sexuality and then get upset when they press hound them but he was a totally private man who wanted to help make a difference to this Country and there are not many people like him about.

    At this point in time we need the press and the media to get behind this Country to promote and support it 100%. They should be backing Britain not trying to undermine it for their own financial gains.

    I think it was a great mistake of the Government not to stand up to the Telegraph. I agree it was possibly a mistake but he has apologised and is repaying the full amount. The press now know its business as usual for them and they can hold the Government hostage any time they like. This is no way for a Country to be run by shoddy little bit part journalists, who can say and do what they like when they like to create maximum chaos.

  • Comment number 76.

    Hmmm Nick, you've got the 2 big political judgements of the election 100% wrong:

    (1) coalition or "confidence and suppply" - you predicted latter, me the former from the very beginning right up to the wire
    (2) David Laws: position untenable? - me yes, you no.

    Me for Political Editor!

  • Comment number 77.

    David Laws is a wealthy ex-Banker, had he paid for this rent from his own money he would have maintained his privacy. Instead, he chose to claim from government something he was not entitled to in order to make these payments. This puts him in the same category as a benefits scrounger.

  • Comment number 78.

    I am sorry but this whole saga is hypocritical...what makes it worse is the open support by Cameron & Co...and even the media to a certain degree!

    If this was a "benefit cheat"....the media...the politician...and the public would have zero sympathy (rightly so!) for this joe public...although their motive may be better understood!

    Seriously...does anyone buy Mr. Laws explanation!

  • Comment number 79.

    Nick Robinson wrote "It is hard to remember a ministerial career so short which has made more impact or a resignation that has been greeted with such widespread regret."

    Is Nick Robinson a government apologist? There seems to be a opinion that we should somehow feel sorry for David Laws.

    Laws is a millionaire who broke the rules on expenses and used tax payers money because he could not deal with issues in his personal life. At the same he has just made the average person in Britain worse off with the recent spending cuts.

    David Laws is a hypocrite and, after all the expense scandals in recent years, he should have no place in government.

  • Comment number 80.

    He should have been fired.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    Another Westminister Joke and a Joker!

  • Comment number 83.

    greed ...the 1 thing thatscomes out of all this, and we are all to blame this whole country is gripped by greed, money is king ,and the rest can go and get stuffed, thats the attitude now and mr laws sums it up perfectly.

  • Comment number 84.

    I just want to point out to Richard Summer and anyone else who may be confused about the issue that living together, for 18 months or otherwise, does not make anyone common-law spouses. There's no common-law marriage in the UK anymore. http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/governmentcitizensandrights/Yourrightsandresponsibilities/DG_10026937

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    Perhaps the Daily Telegraph should be running the country, but I don't see them coming up with solutions for the fix we're in - quite the opposite. Well done DT, what a cracking piece of work - ousting the most able man for the job out of office. Makes you proud to be British.

    Even Nick Robinson couldn't stop himself including reference to David Laws's 'outing himself'. What is it with this national obsession with sex and what goes on in others' houses? God forbid we should ever concentrate on the stuff that matters.

    Study of the 'rules' over the period of David Laws's claim makes it a very grey area, and it's doubtful that he broke the 'rules' at all. The trouble is, the 'rules' have always been as clear as mud, and now we (or the DT) seem to apply them retrospectively, in addition to making them up as we go along. I'm amazed anyone even stood at the General Election - talk about putting your neck in the noose!

  • Comment number 87.

    Its a shame because he would have been a very good Minister. He is one of the few senior people either coalition party who has ever had a proper job!

    But he abused the expenses system. Pure and simple. If he wanted to keep his sexuality secret he need not have claimed anything - or designated his constituency home. He hardly needed the money. This is not about his sexuality; its about abuse of public money and public trust.

  • Comment number 88.

    He extended his main homes mortgage to help his "partner" purchase a property that he then rented a room in - it's like me renting a room in my own house and then claiming housing benefit to pay the rent!

    For someone with reputed economic/financial acumen, this looks very dodgy.

    Lots of libdems have been speaking all day about his desire to keep his relationship private (SECRET!!!!!!) Even Cleggy has made privacy an issue - looks very like the ground work is being laid for a push on privacy reform to be included with the review of libel laws.

    Shame to loose such a great talent at such an important time. He has, however, done the right thing by resigning.

    After claiming to be whiter than white his credability has been severly dented and in his high cabinet role his judgement would regularly be questioned.

    Politicians need to have the courage of their convictions and be prepared to pay the price when they fail to live up to the standards they campaign for.

    Apharently it was already common knowledge within the Westminster village that he is gay, so I do find it hard to understand why this is now an issue. The cynic in me suspects another agenda here – Privacy/Gay rights ???????

  • Comment number 89.

    I concur with Steve Moor....

    "Is Nick Robinson a government apologist? There seems to be a opinion that we should somehow feel sorry for David Laws"

    Please assess from the eyes and ears of the public...

    It neither looks right....or sounds right! to a common person who is struggling already and about to struggle further due to the cuts that David Law announced alongside George Osborne...

    Please stop sympathising for this kind of behavious by our politicians!

  • Comment number 90.

    It's very simple folks - don't muddy the waters by discussing issues of sexuality, issues about someone's right to a private life, these have nothing to do with it. Laws HAD to go and go quickly because;

    - the coalition promised to deliver honest, responsible government and to 'clean up poltics'

    - Laws is as guilty as many of the others who abused the expenses system. It boggles the mind as to why he did this - he didn't need the money, he took it because it was there, because he could and he broke the rules (don't get me started on technical issues about the definition of 'partner' - any fair-minded person would conclude that he undoubtedly broke the rules)

    - the public have absolutely no stomach for any more of this nonsense, Cameron/Clegg know this. If he hadn't walked so quickly Cameron would have sacked him, absolutely no doubt about it

    Sure he was undoubtedly a talented individual and we'll miss that. What we won't miss is another money-grabbing MP who is happy to bury his snout in the trough despite being a multi-millionaire

  • Comment number 91.

    Don't shed any tears - just the latest in a long line of politicians caught with their snouts in the (publicly funded) trough. Most of them say they "have done nothing wrong". This one used being gay as his alibi.

  • Comment number 92.

    Next week loads of honourable people who made errors of judgement will be in courts and prosecuted.

    David / Nick - I think your supportive comments / error of judgement on this man reflects on your ability to improve politics in this country.

    You've failed at the first hurdle.



  • Comment number 93.

    How Cruel..this is the first EGG on CLEGG's Leadership?

    I remember the debates in which Clegg tried to stand on a "Expenses Scandal Pedestal"! basically proclaiming that his party was cleaner than the others!

    It makes you wonder about the depth of knowledge and wisdom in Clegg's Leadership!

  • Comment number 94.

    Yet again sensational journalism has brought down another highly respected figure. When will the press learn to report responsibly and accurately without bias. Unlike their victims the press are virtually unaccountable in the name of free speech. Freedom comes with responsibility and the press consistently fail in their duty in this respect.

    Mr Laws is innocent until proven otherwise. Although it is worth noting:
    1) A partner is not always a spouse (definition to be determined by the investigation)
    2) If his partner was deemed to be a partner he will be entitled to claim significantly more than the £40k he has already done so.

    His actions until now protected his privacy, saved the tax payer money and enabled him to serve his country. What is wrong with that?

  • Comment number 95.

    Can't see that Laws has done much wrong and I'm a little surprised Cameron hasn't made him stay; not least because he himself (another wealthy man) hit the taxpayer for far more in second home expenses - indeed claimed the maximum mortgage deemed to be "within the rules". May well draw attention back there. Risky for the PM, that.

  • Comment number 96.

    He should have been sacked ....and asked to pay the principle, the interest and the penalty!

    After all that is what the general public is expected to pay!

    Also should stand for a re-election as MP and never be allowed to participate in the Government!

    Similarly...I can not imagine an employee found out for serious misconduct to be treated this well...i.e. allowing them to resign and than promising them future post!!

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    I am so annoyed. I heard him in parliament the other day defending the announced cuts and for the first time in many years I was actually impressed with the behaviour of an MP when addressing an important subject. David Laws was mature, calm and very well briefed in responding to Alistair Darling.

    Why is is as soon as we have MPs who don't shout and bicker like children in a school yard, they have to go and mess it all up with an expenses scandal?

  • Comment number 99.

    It isn't only politicians who need to find a new way of thinking and behaving. Isn't it time that we, as a nation, stopped allowing ambitious individuals to manipulate our thinking. Let's concentrate on the important issues. In 2008 the worlds financial systems more or less colapsed, we have been in recession and everyone agrees it's going to be a long haul to future prosperity. So what do we do, we allow person or persons unknown to orchestrate the removal of a key member of the team who we have decided should dig us out of this mess.

    *** Key point - The current government was elected by the British people. Who the hell has the right to destroy it???

    *** Key point - The person/people orchestrating this are doing so for financial gain. Almost certainly more that the amount for which Mr Laws has incorrectly claimed in expenses! It's time we all grew up, stop allowing these plebs to manipulate us!

    A suitable course of action would be for Mr Laws to repay any monies he has incorrectly claimed, possibly with suitable sanctions being imposed either by the House of Commons or by his political party. He should then get his head down and get on with his job as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Yes, I know he has already resigned. I would like someone to start a campaign to have him reinstated ASAP. This is not an issue of a few thousand pounds. When was the last time anyone heard the treasury speak in anything less than £billions! Am I finally making my point!!

    *** Key point - We have a competent and honourable person in a key role witin government. We, the British people, have allowed person or persons unknown to manipulate us into a witch hunt over a few thousand pounds which can, and will be repaid. In the meantime we have sacrificed a very competent individual who can make a significant contribution to the nation's recovery from recession, measured in many billions of pounds. Grow up!

    *** Key point - Lets answer back! Start a campaign to have Mr Laws re-instated as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Let's make it clear to person or persons unknown that we will no longer facilitate their aim to make easy money by manipulating us! After all, that is what this is all about!

  • Comment number 100.

    If any more current or former MP's from any of the parties are exposed as having made claims to which they were not entitled will they be described as honourable by Messrs Cameron and Clegg. David Laws should have been sacked especially when we were told over and over agian that neither party would condone the goings on in the Expenses Scandal.

    David Laws broke the rules and has lost his job because of it and rightly so. If he thinks he has done nothing wrong then why is he paying pack the money? He must accept that sooner or later this mess would be exposed so why didn't he come clean about it last year?

    The British public are totally fed up with the deceitful way our elected representatives behave.

 

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