The resignation of Liberal Democrat David Laws after an expenses scandal has provided the new Westminster coalition its first taste of a crisis and has also led to yet another new Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr Laws, who was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury less than three weeks ago, stood down saying that he no longer believed his position was tenable after it emerged he had claimed more than £40,000 to live in his partner's house.

The shock resignation saw new Secretary of State for Scotland Danny Alexander hastily drafted in as Mr Laws’ replacement.  Mr Alexander’s own replacement will be fellow Lib Dem Michael Moore.

Many will see the casual nature of Mr Alexander’s removal from the SOS post, after such a short tenure, as proof of the diminished status with which the position, and by extension the Scotland Office, is held by the new government.  It is known that the Lib Dems view the role as defunct and want it abolished.

Given this and the Conservatives lukewarm response to the original Calman proposals questions will surely be asked of the new coalition’s commitment to extra powers for Holyrood and the seriousness of their ‘respect’ agenda for Scotland.

The Secretary of State’s role was seen as being key to the smooth implementation of whatever new powers the new coalition agree to hand over.  The Scotland Office had announced only days ago that the original Calman group was to be reconvened and chaired by Mr Alexander.

It will now be the relatively unknown Michael Moore who takes those discussions forward.  He will also, alongside junior Minister David Mundell, consult with the Scottish government on these still to be determined changes.

As the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander now faces the daunting task of implementing the new government's deficit reduction plan which will lead to massive public spending cuts.

He was caught by surprise when given the role of Scottish Secretary of State on 12 May, 17 days later this sudden promotion to one of the most high profile positions in cabinet will come as a further shock.

It will also present the Lib Dems in Scotland with a double headache as a Scottish Lib Dem MP will be the public face of the savage cuts to be made to the Scottish budget and another will take the role of the cabinet’s man in Scotland and will have to defend those same cuts.


# mato21 2010-05-30 09:46
To hear Mr Laws being described as a man of honour with integrity is rather sickening considering what he has done.If his privacy had been so important to him he could have chosen to pay his landlord (seems a bit odd he had to rent a room from his partner in the first place as opposed to sharing a home) out of his salary. As a millionaire even without his salary it would hardly have broken the bank but no there was money to be had and they all had to have it regardless.Greedy greedy self serving obnoxious people Obviously D.Mundell does not even rate as second class a right slap in the face if ever there was one for any man
# 1scot 2010-05-30 09:57
I am going out to buy the only paper I read, the Sunday Herald. I want to see what their take is on this and it's effect on Scotland. We are being treated as a joke by the parties who came third and fourth in Scotland. We must speak up.
Thank you Newsnet Scotland, for being the only honest voice in Scotland.
# RTP 2010-05-30 11:02
Just listened to Campbell with Gray very cosy chat no difficult questions just a chance to slag off the SNP again no question about the name change fiasco,as for Moore who is he,Mundell must be raging today.I am getting sick,sick of the reporting in Scotland thank goodness for Newsnet.
# Clare 2010-05-30 11:46
I'm very glad this dishonest individual has quit. What a disgrace he is and for this to happen only a couple of weeks after the election suggests that not all of the Commons thieves were previously unmasked. What I still don't understand is why this is another one who will be allowed to "pay the taxpayer back" while a mere handful were referred to a court of law. This man for certain should face charges given the clear intent to deceive the taxpayer. He is a complete disgrace. It is out and out fraud.
# Clare 2010-05-30 13:03
Laws, a wealthy former banker, told Cameron in his resignation letter he could not escape the conclusion the £40,000 in public money that he had helped channel to his lobbyist partner, James Lundie, was “in some way wrong”.


The Prime Minister accepted the resignation telling Laws he had “made a real difference setting the government on the right path to tackle the deficit.”

The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said his Liberal Democrat cabinet colleague had taken a “very painful decision” and had acted with “dignity and integrity.”


Chancellor George Osborne expressed his sadness at Mr Laws’ departure in a statement. “I am very sorry to lose David from the Treasury,” he said. “It was as if he had been put on earth to do the job that was asked of him. Public life should have a future place for such an honourable, talented person.”


Good grief what have we come to that even after the revelations of last summer it is still somehow down to a wee mix up that rich people like this screw the taxpayer for tens of thousands?

Elsewhere in the press there are debates on-going as to whether Laws is being treated badly due to homophobia. We are talking about theft and nothing else and I for one don't care about the sexual orientation of the thief. He's a thief and he is guilty of fraud. He should be charged immediately and face the consequences of his misconduct and dishonest behaviour.
# 1scot 2010-05-30 13:14
Well said Clare.
# mato21 2010-05-30 13:50
I was thinking I would have to invest in a new dictionary as the words used bear no relation to how I view this creep He seemed quite happy at being the one to squeeze the country having obtained money for himself through false pretences.Whichever way they try to dress it up the conclusion is the same THEFT from the public purse,since the majority of MPs from the top down were also thieves we cannot expect them to utter any words that would imply condemnation.Their manipulation and interpretation of the rules showed them up for the sleazebags they undoubtedly are
# Clare 2010-05-30 14:32
Hi Mato. What sticks in my throat is the stated shock and horror from all of them when the expenses debacle first took off. It was all "We condemn this, we utterly condemn this: it is unacceptable." And now we get this when we're talking about forty grand???? It beggars belief. Plus the homophobia nonsense. How many openly gay men were in Blair's cabinet and in Brown's for heaven's sakes? How many openly gay Tories are there? So to say the public wouldn't cope with this guy's sexual orientation is simply ludicrous! There was a time there were so many openly gay MPs at Westminster that I suspected there must be something in the water there!
# Clare 2010-05-30 14:33
PS My final sentence is an attempt at humour and it passed the test with gay friends of mine and made them laugh. It isn't homophobic, honest ; )
# mato21 2010-05-30 15:34
Afternoon Clare it surely is a non event what sexual orientation anyone has nowadays and as I often use the phrase something in the water I reckoned your humour was much in line with my own and read your post as such.There's more serious goings on afoot for that to be a consideration However they may think it's a get out of jail arguement to employ.There are too many mealy mouths about to tell it as it is. A thiefs a thief regardless and the common man will view him as such
# hektorsmum 2010-05-30 17:25
Clare, you said everything that needed to be said and I agree with you regarding the fact that nowadays very few people care what is done in the privacy of the bedroom.
The homophobia that Mr Laws suffered from seems to have been his own, that said he took money from the Public Purse and should be rightly ashamed.
# Teri 2010-05-30 19:13
David Laws was indeed wrong in that he did not declare that he was living with his partner and claimed rent for a room in his house. However, had he declared he was living with a partner, he would have been able to claim the mortgage interest on the property, which would have been a lot more than the rent money that he did claim.
# Clare 2010-05-30 20:55
Not if the property wasn't in his name he wouldn't Teri.
# Teri 2010-05-31 17:46
According to those in Westminster who have spoken on this subject, and they know more about it than I, yes, David Laws would have been able to claim mortgage interest.

This instance yet again shows the flaws in the expenses system that have existed. It is hoped the changes to the system will have closed all loopholes, but until I find time to read them thoroughly, I cannot comment.
# DouglasDaniel 2010-05-31 01:38
The "he's actually saved us money" route that several Lib Dem bloggers seem to be going down is disingenuous - it's just another way of trying to excuse him. He broke the rules - it's as simple as that. By going down the "I didn't want my family and friends to know I was gay" route, he's also admitting that he knew exactly what he was doing, and that he doesn't even have the "honest mistake" excuse that several tried to use.
# CapnAndy 2010-05-30 23:54
If you read the BBC website. It's all a terrible shame and he will be back in government soon.
# Clare 2010-05-31 09:08
The other thing is that the Telegraph intends to drip-drip information like this into circulation at a time of its choice. Clearly everything did NOT come out last year during the expenses scandal. The very disturbing thing is the motivation at the Telegraph. It is clearly political.

It disapproves of the coalition and it is also furious that Capital Gains Tax is going up. It is clearly gearing up to shoot down a few people and also fire warning shots across the bows of others. This is vicious journalism indeed.

If the Telegraph has withheld snippets from the information they obtained illegally last year and intends to use what is left to further its own political agenda then that is quite wrong. Indeed it is blackmail almost.

The only solution is for those who slipped through the expenses investigation process - as Laws did - to come out (pardon the pun) and admit it. That'll sort the Telegraph right out! It would of course be nice to think the Telegraph believes in that integrity thing and that other thing, honour is it? But of course it doesn't. The Telegraph represents only one section of the people and the very idea that someone has suggested this section should pay some more tax has clearly sent its Editorial people into a serious tantrum.

Let's hope politicians see what the Telegraph intends to do and do it for them. While condemning Laws personally this is not the sort of thing I wish to see. No newspaper should have this level of power nor should it be allowed to hold back information like this and then use it for exploitation purposes.
# spagan 2010-05-31 10:51
The Media are so cruel!
Poor Danny Alexander.
The "Sun" is suggesting that he is actually "Beaker" from the Muppet Show.
Now some might think he's a Muppet, but when it comes to managing or massaging his tax bill, he's no Muppet - unless its the "Sharp" Cookie Monster?
Apparently he claimed 99p for some "Mr Muscle" as part of his Westminster expenses?
Surely not - I mean he's a nice cuddly Liberal - honest and generous to a "T".
Having worked with loads of Public Servants in Education and in Health and in Social Work - and signed off their expenses claims every month; I never met a single, solitary individual that would have beem aviricious enough to claim for a 99p item.
I suppose his "wee Brother", Douglas or his "wee Sister", Wendy perhaps "kept him right" when he was filling in his forms?
Ach well at least he didn't "break the rules" and claim £40,000 like some other good and honest Liberals.
Good to see Mr Clegg has such virtuous cronies.
Slainte Mhor
# Teri 2010-05-31 17:47
Douglas Alexander paid back more than £12,000 when the Telegraph started publishing them last year.

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