Laws resignation as chief secretary to treasury for expenses mis-claim

Discussion in 'Politics' started by dandelion, May 29, 2010.

  1. dandelion

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    Just curious how anyone here might view the political demise of David Laws.

    The situation seems to be that he claimed expenses for rent paid to his 'partner' for accomodation without mentioning that the person the rent was paid to was indeed his partner. Payments to partners are not allowed.

    However, had he declared that the person was indeed his partner and he was living with him, then he would have been able to claim rather more money for their home.

    Basically, he claimed less than he could so as to hide the fact they were, er, partners.

    He has now resigned. What do people think?
     
  2. Scot22

    Scot22 New Member

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    David attended a Roman Catholic Prep School before gaining a double first at Cambridge.
    Both parents are Catholics,and his sexuality would have shocked and hurt them grievously.
    By nature he is reserved,rather diffident,and a very private person.
    Nine years ago he found love,and it remained secret until two days ago.
    This 'outing' will have sent shock waves throughout his family and friends.His wish has always been to hide his love,partly or wholly explained by the aforementioned.
    His choice,and his alone.

    Regarding the expenses.viz----

    1. If he HADN'T claimed for a London room/flat, questions would have been asked.
    2.In 2006,when the rules were changed regarding wives/partners-----to STOP claiming for London accommodation questions would have been asked.

    A lose/lose situation.

    As a matter of fact in the list of MPs' expenses his claims are very modest indeed----his name being in the lower fifth.

    Another human tragedy played out on the public stage.

    My hope is that he survives this trauma.
     
  3. MarkLondon

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    I hadn't heard that angle reported. Do you mean if he was open about his partnership he could have claimed the expense of the entire house instead of just one room? I don't think so, as the house was in the boyfriend's name.

    Anyway, the guy who's in charge of cutting spending on other people can't be one who's milked £40,000 for himself and his partner (male or female) out of the public purse on dodgy grounds.

    I thought his position was doomed when Lembit Opik (!) was the only (ex)-political figure to come to his defence in the media before he resigned. And his main arguement was along the lines of "the guy's a millionaire, he doesn't even need the money"! Huh, it ain't selfless public-spirited types that become millionaires working in the City, usually.

    It is a tradgedy that in this day and age he felt it necessary to hide his sexual identity, but strangely there's a long tradition of that in the Liberal Party - from Jeremy Thorpe putting the frighteners on his ex-lover to Simon Hughes pretending to be straight and using homophobia in order to defeat the out-gay Labour candidate in his first election.
     
    #3 MarkLondon, May 30, 2010
    Last edited: May 30, 2010
  4. Bbucko

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    I'll defer on the domestic politics in the UK as I am completely ignorant of them.

    However, one of the stops I made on my way to LPSG this afternoon has an impassioned post on this very subject:

     
  5. dandelion

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    The situation sems to be that everything was just fine until the rules were changed to say you couldnt claim expenses against rent paid to a family member/partner. At that point Laws was stuffed, because he could either stop claiming and thus in effect admit the reason, or carry on claiming. Had he admitted the reason it seems reasonable they could have rearranged their finances so he could legitimately be claiming against his own accomodation in London just as every other MP is doing. In effect he didnt claim any money he wasnt entitled to, just money he wasnt entitled to claim in the way that he did.

    If the main consideration was keeping his relationship secret then there was nothing to be done except cross your fingers and be happy as each year went by without any publicity. It would seem the newspapers had the story some time ago, but chose not to use it. Something seems to have happened just recently whereby it leaked. No doubt becoming a minister had something to do with it.

    What it comes down to is that preserving his private life was more important than a parliamentary career. I knew absolutely nothing about him a couple of months ago, another invisible lib dem. But he had just occupied a critical position in the UK government and was ideal both from his financial backround and as a right wing liberal for this post. Frankly the UK government needs as many clever people as it can get right now. This is bad for him, but it is bad for all of us.

    The UK MPs expenses system is ridiculous and MPs are still utterly refusing to acknowledge it. London housing allowance is nothing but backdoor pay and should have been rolled into their basic salary. Then no more arguing about rights and wrongs and who is getting how much, its their money to spent how they think best. Had they scrapped expenses none of this for Laws nor for all the others would have happened. The system is unacceptable, but they will not do anything about it. The very first thing Cameron did was make an announcement his cabinet would take a 5% pay cut, but not a word about sorting out their expenses. MPs are still not willing to admit they get £20,000 each year to buy themselves a home in london but still pretend they 'only' get £60,000 basic. Its fraud, but its nothing unique to Laws position.
     
  6. TurkeyWithaSunburn

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    Why do MPs have expense accounts at all?
     
  7. dandelion

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    Ah an easy one! They were invented by Margaret Thatcher because it was embarassing to give MPs pay rises at a time of national recession. Strangely MPs never found a good time to sort matters out, accept the pay rises recomended for them and get rid of expenses. Instead they keep turning down part of their pay rise and boosting their expense allowances. Nice.

    Some of us are heartily sick of it and cheered greatly when the exact details of what they had been spending those expenses on came to light in recent years.
     
  8. B_crackoff

    B_crackoff New Member

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    Oh I'm going to upset people here .

    Face the facts. He paid rent to his long term partner.

    You clealry aren't allowed to do that. It's just like Jaqui Smith bailing out her sister, when she herself was a guarantor on the mortgage.

    It's fraud. Being Gay is not a crime, & it's not like there aren't any openly gay LD MPs, & as we've seen on this site pre-election, many gays vote LD.

    He knew the rules. He lied. End of.

    If any person can't tell the truth to their parents, they won't find it a problem when they're a Government minister.

    He subsidised his boyfriend's mortgage without declaring it.

    If he was on the dole he'd be prosecuted!!! Make no mistake! Hetero or Homo.

    People who serve in Govt. must be/should be whiter than white.

    He should resign his seat. Despite what he's done, I'm sure he'd get re-elected, & then at least he'd have a mandate to sit in Government.

    But of course, he won't!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    They're all quite sickening, whichever political hue, aren't they?

    EDIT

    I only wish that they had a mandatory test to be at least of average IQ before even being selected.
     
    #8 B_crackoff, May 30, 2010
    Last edited: May 30, 2010
  9. dandelion

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    The point of asking is to find what people think.

    Why not? Sure there's a rule, but when the payments started there was no rule and why should there be a rule?

    Fraud is obtaining money by deception which you are not entitled to. I cant find it now but the BBC had an online article about his resignation where they had an inset box I presume exactly quoting the parliamentary regulations. It said something like 'no payments can be made to a relative (including for example a spouse or civil partner)'. A definition as clear as mud in this context. The purpose of the 'for example' must be to make clear how close a relationship must be to count. It did not say 'for example a mistress or person you shagged at least five times'. So presumably such people do not count. If the BBc quoted the rules properly, then once again parliament has drafted rules you can drive a coach and horses through, or which were not intended to include anything except a legally recognised marriage.

    Secondly, the rules do not prevent you paying for accomodation which you share with a spouse or partner. Unlike social security or housing benefit rules, parliamentary allowances do not depend on how much your partner earns or whether they earn enough to pay for your accommodation. The principle behind them is that an MP is entitled to have London accommodation paid for. So the case is not at all like failing to declare a spouse if you are unemployed. You get extra expenses for a spouse as an MP, not less. If he had organised his expenses more openly he could like as not have claimed more. Unlike some MPs the expenses were for something which he needed, received and was in principle entitled to. It wasnt paying for someone else's house which he never lived in, which I think was the case with a certain MPs sister.

    It is if your Catholic, apparently.

    The rules changed giving him a choice of coming clean on his relationship or lying. He decided it was more important to keep the relationship secret than to make an accurate expenses claim. I dont want to go too far on this because we dont know the real details, but if you start from the premise the most important thing is to preserve the secret, not having a career in parliament, then this sort of lie tends to snowball once you start out that way. Hes a lib dem. Frankly had no realistic expectation of ever being in the political limelight and the newspapers had already passed on exposing his personal situation (they knew, apparently). He took steps to regularise the expenses claim by getting a separate flat, though in my view while he may have made it watertight by the rules is now making a less honest claim.

    Laws was interviewed before all this happened about his views generally and said he felt it more important to maintain personal relationships than other things. I would interpret this as meaning it is more important to preserve whatever relationships are the source of the problem here than to be an MP. I do not want us reduced to the situation where people feel they are unable to enter parliament because of the harm it will do to their personal lives. That simply means preventing lots of good, normal, representative people from being MPs and meaning we are stuck with the bubble people who value being in parliament more than anything else.

    He certainly wouldn't be the first!

    But as an MP they would give him more money for declaring he was living with someone, not less!!!

    You really want people so unlike real people to be running the country? The whole problem with MPs is they dont understand real people. The question is not the detailed rules of how an MP claims his £20,000 housing allowance but whether he deserves one at all. Do you get one? I dont.

    If you think he'd get re-elected (and I think your right), why do you think we ought to get the taxpayer to pay for another election?

    Why should he? MPs are elected for a full parliamentary term.

    So what do you think about my suggestion that housing allowance should be abolished and they should simply have an increased salary equal to a bit less than the average they are each claiming now? (which would be more than Laws claimed)
     
    #9 dandelion, May 31, 2010
    Last edited: May 31, 2010
  10. dandelion

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    Ha! Kelvin MacKenzie (former Sun editor) was just silenced in a rant on the radio against Laws fiddling expenses, by Evan Davis who asked why if it was fair for an MP to get expenses to pay for somewhere he was living, he should not get the same money to pay for somewhere he was sharing with someone he was in a relationship with. Seldom find Mackenzie at a loss for words when hes trying to ridicule someone.
     
  11. freyasworld

    freyasworld New Member

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    To me it's a murky dirty world these guys are living in, I do however feel that the sexuality issue is just a smoke screen, to deflect the fact he got found out.

    The rules are simple, they cannot claim expenses for living with someone they are in a relationship with!

    He lied,scammed and cheated everytime he put in his claim form!
     
  12. D_Andreas Sukov

    D_Andreas Sukov Account Disabled

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    Fuck him. One down, a few more to go.

    Can the telegraph find out some dirt on Theresa May? Obviously being homophobic is not dirt enough...
     
  13. bearvwe

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    This from today's Independent: It was secrecy, not privacy that Laws wanted

    "Many years ago, I heard one of Quentin Crisp's inimitable performances in Cambridge. In the second half of the evening, he took questions from the audience. "Should I tell my mother I'm gay?" the first one ran. "Never," Quentin raspingly responded, "tell your mother anything." He continued for some time before coming to his conclusion. "And by the way: if you're over 30, she knows." David Laws, the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is 44 years old."
     
  14. dandelion

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    wel you would think so, wouldn't you, but its surprising how blinkered people are by their expectations. It is default behaviour to assume people are not gay. Dont you?
     
  15. TurkeyWithaSunburn

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    They are just asking for trouble then.

    Here lawmakers get in trouble when they rent rooms (at below market rent) from a legally registered church (houses of worship are tax exempt, so the church doesn't pay property taxes til recently) which happens to be owned by a secretive religious group. It's a giant house, a walk to the capitol, and those lucky ones who lived there were only paying about $900/mo. including meals! :eek:
    C Street House No Longer Tax Exempt | TPMMuckraker
     
  16. dandelion

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    I dont know if you are aware of the history of it. MPs expenses used to be secret, and basically they had, say a £20,000 allowance and spent it on whatever they wanted. Thats how it was set up, and honestly that is exactly what some of them were told by their parties. Then someone passed a freedom of information act. There followed 5 yeras of stallling, then eventually a newspaper got hold of a pirate copy of the expenses informatiom. It was startlingly more revealing than the edited version the government had just about been forced to produce. There followed lots of demands to repay money for ridiculous things and quite a bit of retrospective rewriting of rules. The whole thing is a farce. Before maybe you were allowed to refurnish your house with expenses, and now you can only pay the rent or mortgage, but its still open to you to buy a house and spend precisely the right amount so you can charge the bill to your expenses.

    The have tighter rules but its still all stupid: far better really to have the old system where MPs were simply told they had some dosh to spend and could spend it on something they really wanted. Its wasteful to give people money they can only spend on something they may not need. How much they spend is down to their own honesty. The good ones (few) dont touch it. The brazen ones spend the lot. It just encourages fraud and punishes the good. Then theres the increasingly expensive band of people whose job is to administer all this. The enquiries into expenses have cost more than the expenses they enqured into.
     
    #16 dandelion, May 31, 2010
    Last edited: May 31, 2010
  17. freyasworld

    freyasworld New Member

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    Then they'd be spending tax payers money on hookers and holidays! How is that right!
     
  18. dandelion

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    well what do you spend your pay on? If its your pay then its yours. If they want to spend it on hookers and live in a tent, thats up to them.
     
  19. B_mitchymo

    B_mitchymo New Member

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    I would opt for a government owned property that could be used as a free accomodation for mps to eliminate the need for second homes and expenses alltogether.
     
  20. freyasworld

    freyasworld New Member

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    I guess there's some logic in your argument, if they treat their expenses as pay, then fair enough they should be free to spend it on what they want. The same way if a employee takes things from his employer when he gets caught, he claims its part of his wages, he should not be fired.
     
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