Current Affairs

PM defends cabinet return of David Laws

September 12, 2012
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Prime Minister David Cameron has defended bringing David Laws back into government. The Lib Dem MP is currently the most senior openly gay member of the frontbench.

Mr Laws was forced to 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 partner breaking the rules on MPs’ second home expenses.

The prime minister told MPs today that Mr Laws had accepted his mistakes and now deserved a “second chance”.

Mr Laws returned to government last week as an education minister.

While not a full cabinet minister, he will have an office in the Cabinet Office and will be allowed to attend top level meetings.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron was challenged about Mr Laws’ return by Labour backbencher Jim Dowd.

“In the previous parliament members of either House who were shown to have deliberately found to have abused the expenses system were quite rightly forced to face the full rigour of the law,” Mr Dowd said.

He went on: “But why is it in this parliament the same proven dishonesty results in the restoration of ministerial office and a seat at the cabinet table?”

Mr Cameron replied: “As I have said in relation to this in the past, I do think it is right to give someone a second chance”.

Mr Laws, who has repaid more than £56,000 in unjustified claims, was forced to apologise to MPs for his conduct and was suspended from the Commons for a week last year.

He is seen as a close ally and friend of Lib Dem leader and deputy PM Nick Clegg.

When asked by at an LGBT Whitehall reception last night about the recent departure from government of openly gay Conservative ministers Crispin Blunt and Nick Herbert. Mr Clegg rejected suggestions that the reshuffle had lowered the profile of LGBT political representation.

“I don’t think cabinet should be judged exclusively by the number of openly gay cabinet ministers around the table.

“I think it is incredibly important that the values of all ministers around the cabinet table are tolerant, liberal and open, and that’s exactly what I think is the centre of gravity around the top of the government,” Mr Clegg told this publication.

More: cabinet, David Cameron, David Laws, England, lgbt reception, Nick Clegg, Prime Minister's Questions

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