Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lib Dem MP David Laws’ expenses scandal puts his job as Chief Treasury Secretary in an untenable position; David Cameron should sack him immediately

Dear All

Chief Treasury Secretary David Laws has been forced to apologised after it emerged he had been claiming MPs' expenses to rent rooms in homes owned by his partner.

His position as Chief Secretary to the Treasury is now completely untenable.

The total amount to be paid back is in the region of £40,000.

In ripping off the taxpayer and breaking the rules he said that his motivation was to keep the relationship with the man private and not to reveal his own sexuality.

Sorry that isn’t an excuse for cheating the public.

What is shameful is that this abuse was systematic stretching into years, since 2006 parliamentary rules have banned MPs from "leasing accommodation from a partner".

Laws claimed up to £950 a month for eight years to rent a room in two properties owned by his partner, James Lundie.

The rules in the Green Book are clear on this matter.

Housing allowance must not be used to meet the costs of renting a property from:

a partner or family member (including a spouse or civil partner);
a close business associate; or an organisation or company in which you or a family member have an interest (other than as an ordinary investor).
*Source: The Green Book

Laws said;

"At no point did I consider myself to be in breach of the rules which in 2009 defined partner as 'one of a couple… who although not married to each other or civil partners are living together and treat each other as spouses'. Although we were living together we did not treat each other as spouses - for example we do not share bank accounts and indeed have separate social lives”.

So, what should David Cameron do?

Fire him immediately or risk losing credibility and goodwill; it is not enough that Cameron should sit on the fence as Laws refers himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life said;

"I'm a genuinely shocked that somebody who is now chief secretary to the Treasury is faced with disclosure of this nature where he clearly hasn't told the full truth to the people dealing with expenses in the House of Commons. Given all the expenses farrago that has gone on over the past two or three years, the fact that it has come to light now when he is a key part of a coalition government is staggering really."

So, election on MAY 6th and already in a little over three weeks, the first high profile scandal of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition and it is a major scandal to boot.

I would expect Laws to stand down by next week, this is going to play out pretty badly; one of the men charged with handling the nation’s finances can’t be trusted.

It would be better if David Laws went voluntarily, if not Cameron has to sack him.

I said that the expenses scandal wasn’t over and Parliament hadn’t moved on in other posts, George Laird was right again.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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