David Laws: The Tip of the Lib Dem Expenses Scandal
The resignation of Lib Dem Treasury Chief Secretary David Laws for claiming £40,000 of taxpayers’ money to pay rent to his boyfriend is just the tip of his party’s expenses scandals.
Mr Laws, who has tried to use his homosexuality as an excuse for the blatant swindle, claimed between £700 and £950 every month to rent rooms in London.
These properties were actually owned by his long-term partner, James Lundie, who apparently works as a political lobbyist.
Mr Laws can have no excuse for his expenses claims, as MPs were banned four years ago from leasing accommodation from a partner.
Mr Laws is not alone in this grand rip-off conspiracy. Here is a selection of Lib Dem expenses claims:
* Lib Dem MP for St Ives, Andrew George, claimed £847 a month from taxpayers on mortgage interest payments for a riverside flat — even though the home insurance policy included on his expenses file is in the name of his 21-year-old daughter, Morvah George.
* Lib Dem leader — and now deputy prime minister — Nick Clegg charged monthly interest repayments of £1,018 on a £279,000 mortgage to the taxpayers, including stamp duty, land registry and legal costs, totalling £9,244.50.
Mr Clegg also charged the taxpayers for a £2,600 kitchen, and had £5,857.63 worth of decorating done, including carpets, a laminate floor, tiling and sanding, curtains, blinds, curtain rails and repairs to a garage door. Mr Clegg also claimed for cushions costing £4.99, a £2.49 cake pan and £1.50 paper napkins.
Mr Clegg also claimed £680 worth of gardening carried out, including work to “build small wall in rose garden”, followed by £760 for the repair of his garden path.
Taxpayers will also be glad to hear that apart from his parliamentary salary, they also paid to feed Mr Clegg. In the period from 2 August to 13 December 2005, Mr Clegg submitted a £1,657.32 invoice for food.
Finally, Mr Clegg made the taxpayer pay for his private telephone calls to Colombia, Vietnam and Belgium. The last set of claims was so outrageous that Mr Clegg was forced to pay the money claimed back.
* Multi-millionaire Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne, owns his second home in his Eastleigh constituency but makes sure that the taxpayers pick up the bills for its upkeep.
In August 2006 he claimed — and was paid — for a £5,066 builder’s invoice that included having two coats of “red rustic timber care” applied to garden items, and two coats of green preservative for fences.
Mr Huhne also submitted a handyman’s bill for £77.31, including a claim for “replacing rope on swinging chair.”
His incidental expenses provision claims include a single receipt for semi-skimmed milk (62p), chocolate HobNobs (79p), tea bags (89p), a bus ticket (£3.20), a cheese muffin (99p), bacon flavour Wheat Crunchies (28p), Ready Brek (£1.81), and an £85.35 bill for the “mounting, framing and inscription of photo of Chris Huhne.”
* Lib Dem MP for Montgomeryshire, Lembit Opik, was forced to pay back £2,499 for a 42” plasma TV which he bought for himself.
In May 2006, Mr Opik billed a £40 summons for non-payment of council tax on the flat to his second home expenses.
He successfully claimed £890 for a smaller television and new video recorder. In July 2008, Mr Opik claimed £135 for a triple mirror and coffee table from Argos.
* Nick Harvey, Lib Dem MP for North Devon, claimed £30 per month for his subscription to Sky Sports and £3,515 for food between 2004 and 2008.
* Norman Baker, MP for Lewes, tried to claim for a bicycle and a computer so that he could “listen to music.” Both these requests were denied, but his expenses records revealed that he had claimed hundreds of pounds for food at his second home at a time when Parliament was not sitting.
* Lib Dem MP for Teignbridge, Richard Younger-Ross, charged taxpayers more than £1,200 for mirrors to furnish his London flat, one of which alone cost £725.
He also claimed on his parliamentary expenses for a top-of-the-range stereo system that cost more than £1,100, and a bookcase called the “Don Juan.”
* Former Tory party leader and current Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told the BBC that Mr Laws “has the talent to return” to the cabinet.
Mr Duncan Smith, most famous for leading the Conservative party in backing the illegal war against Iraq by supporting the Labour Party in parliament, said Mr Laws was a "thoroughly decent person."