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Parliamentary report calls for David Laws suspension

LibDem MP David Laws should be suspended from Parliament for seven days, according to a parliamentary report.

The report from the standards and privileges committee says Laws was guilty of “a series of serious breaches of the rules of the House of Commons over a considerable time”.

During its long running expose on MPs’ expenses, the Daily Telegraph revealed Liberal Democrat MP for Yeovil Laws had claimed more than £40,000 of tax payers money to rent a room in his partner’s house.

The report says £11,780 of that was wrongly claimed. It recommends the suspension begins on June 7, but MPs will vote on whether to approve the sanction on May 16.

The report is a blow to Laws who, even as he resigned in May last year from the role of Treasury chief secretary after just 17 days as a minister, was tipped for a return to cabinet by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

The £40,000 included between £50 and £150 a month for utilities, between £100 and £200 a month for maintenance as well as £950 a month rent which he paid to his partner until rules were changed and receipts had to be provided for claims over £25 when the amount he claimed dropped. For example, his utility claims dropped to £37 a month.

Laws said as he resigned that he maintained the arrangement between 2001 and 2009 to keep his sexuality private, adding neither friends nor family knew about the relationship. However, payments to relations and partners have been against parliamentary rules since 2006.

The report accepted Laws’ privacy argument but added that it “cannot justify” his conduct.

It adds that Laws’ behaviour since May 2010 had been exemplary and that it was “to his credit” that he repaid £56,592, the sum total of his expenses after the rules around payments to partners changed in 2006.

Laws’ resignation made his the shortest tenure as a minister in modern times.

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