04/09/2012 16:27 BST

David Laws Makes Long-Awaited Return To Government In Reshuffle

David Laws was the first ministerial casualty of the coalition Government, resigning after just 17 days amid a scandal over his parliamentary expenses.

His appointment on Tuesday as education minister risks reviving controversy over his expenses claims, which saw him suspended from the Commons for seven days in 2011 when a parliamentary inquiry found that he had committed "a series of serious breaches of rules".

Laws apologised to Parliament and voluntarily repaid more than £56,000 after it was revealed that he claimed allowances to pay his partner James Lundie rent for the London flat where they lived. The Yeovil MP argued that his motive was to avoid outing himself as gay, rather than profit.

His resignation as Chief Secretary to the Treasury on May 29, 2010, was the first bombshell to hit the coalition administration.

david laws

Laws, in 2010, apologising before the House of Commons for his actions

A key member of the Lib Dems' team during negotiations over the formation of the coalition with Conservatives in the wake of the inconclusive 2010 general election, he had been lined up for the crucial job of working with Chancellor George Osborne on the deficit reduction programme. His resignation meant that the less experienced Danny Alexander had to be drafted in to take on the sensitive role.

A former investment banker, 46-year-old Mr Laws has always been on the right of the Liberal Democrats and was expected to take to the task of reining in public spending with more relish than many of his colleagues.

He was a driving force behind the Orange Book, which signalled a resurgence in the party's free-market wing in 2004, using his contribution to deride "soggy socialism and corporatism" in favour of the "traditional building blocks of liberalism".

michael gove

Laws will now join Michael Gove in the Department for Education

And, more recently, he used an interview in June this year to call for radically deeper cuts to public spending and taxes, arguing that the share of the economy accounted for by the state should be trimmed from around 40% to 35%.

However, his return has not gone down well with everyone. John Mann, the outspoken MP, said that Laws' reappointment is a sign that David Cameron has "lost his moral compass".

"What an example to set for today’s children. An Education Minister who deceived the electorate in his election publicity, was expelled from Parliament for a week and has not yet faced the electorate for a fresh mandate."

"No disgraced politician is fit for public office unless and until the British people have given him a vote of confidence at the ballot box."


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