Coalition braces for David Laws expenses report

Will report pave way for David Laws' Cabinet return?
Will report pave way for David Laws' Cabinet return?

By Alex Stevenson

David Laws' return to government rests on a crucial standards report on his expenses claims due this week.

The former chief secretary to the Treasury has long been tipped for a return to the Cabinet after resigning from the job after just three weeks last May.

Mr Laws quit after it emerged he had claimed over £40,000 in rent paid to his landlord who, it turned out, was also his boyfriend.

James Lundie's relationship with one of the key architects of the coalition government was kept private because Mr Laws wanted to keep his sexuality secret, he has claimed.

Parliament's commissioner for standards, John Lyon, will issue his verdict on the case later this week.

"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," Mr Laws insisted in a statement as he resigned.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said at the time: "I very much hope that when those questions are answered there will be an opportunity for him to rejoin the government, because, as everyone has seen in recent weeks, he has so much to contribute to national life."

The extent of the criticism contained in Mr Lyon's report will determine how soon that return can take place.

Media reports about the report's contents have proved contradictory. The Mail on Sunday cited a well-placed source claiming the report could make it extremely difficult for Mr Laws to ever return, but the Guardian newspaper suggested he would only face a mild reprimand.

There are additional barriers. Mr Laws' return will require one of the five Lib Dem ministers currently in the Cabinet to give way, under informal terms agreed during the coalition's formation.


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