Education Minister David Laws has said that coming out earlier, rather than being forced to out himself by the newspapers would have made “my life a lot easier and happier — and that of those close to me.”

Mr Laws was forced to come out as gay and quit as chief secretary to the Treasury just weeks after the coalition was formed in the summer of 2010, after becoming embroiled in the expenses scandal.

The Telegraph revealed he had claimed almost £40,000 in rent that was paid to his secret same-sex partner, James Lundie breaking the rules on MPs’ second home expenses.

Mr Laws designated his main home as being in his Yeovil constituency and claimed rent on a flat not owned by his partner when expenses rules were changed.

Now in an interview with The Times, Mr Laws looks back on his first spell in Government as “a multiple car crash in a political sense and personal sense. Although funnily enough the last year has been the happiest year of my life. I could be honest about who I was.”

He told the newspaper that he wishes that he had come out earlier: “It does simplify life enormously not having secrets. It would have made my life a lot easier and happier — and that of those close to me. But these things are constrained by circumstances. When you have protected your privacy and presented yourself as one particular individual then there never seems to be the perfect time to change that until you are forced to.”

Mr Laws, who aside from his role at the Department for Education assists the Deputy Prime Minister across Government says that discrimination against LGBT people is still a big issue in schools and in the workplace. He said: “the assumption that we are now living in a society where these things are consigned to the past is sadly not the case. There is a lot of bullying in schools and in the workplace. There is still a long way to go.”

Mr Laws said that “it is really important for the Government to push forward” on the issue of equal marriage. But he declined to say whether he would like to marry his own partner. He joked: “I’d like to be in a society that has that opportunity, but I don’t think I should make that offer through The Times.”

At the time of his resignation, Mr Laws said: “I’ve been involved in a relationship with James Lundie since around 2001 — about two years after first moving in with him. Our relationship has been unknown to both family and friends throughout that time.

“James and I are intensely private people. We made the decision to keep our relationship private and believed that was our right. Clearly that cannot now remain the case.”

Mr Laws’ sexuality had been an open secret at Westminster for several years.