Socialist Worker

Revealed: Expenses minister David Laws hosted parliament dinner for partner's lobby firm

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2203

The Lib Dem minister with dodgy expenses, David Laws, hosted a dinner in the House of Commons for the lobbying company, Edelman. His partner James Lundie is a director with Edelman.

Socialist Worker can reveal that this was among the seven receptions Edleman had at the House of Commons in a year and a half from 2004.

On 7 September 2004 Laws hosted a dinner for 14 people in a plush Parliament dining room. The rather limited register of rooms bookings show that the dinner was to host representatives from Edelman.

Edelman’s clients include Microsoft, Kraft, Starbucks, Walmart, Shell and EON. The firms specialises in industrial relations PR.

As extremely wealthy minster for cuts, Laws has gleefully pushed through proposals for slashing public services. He crowed last week, 'The years of public sector plenty are over, but the more decisively we act the quicker and stronger we can come through these tough times.'

Over the years, there has been plenty in the public purse for him.

Laws, a former investment banker with JP Morgan, claimed between £700 and £950 a month to sub-let a room in a flat in Kennington, south London. This flat was owned by Lundie who was also registered as living at the property. The partner sold the flat for a profit of £193,000 in 2007.

In 2007, Laws’s partner then bought another house nearby for £510,000. The MP then began claiming to rent the “second bedroom” in this property. His claims increased to £920 a month.

The arrangement continued until September 2009, when Laws switched his designated second home and began renting another flat at taxpayers’ expense. Lundie remained at the Kennington house.

Laws’s claims for other expenses are interesting . Between 2004 and 2008, he submitted regular claims, in rounded figures, for service and maintenance, repairs, utilities and other items.

Typically he claimed between £50 and £150 a month for utilities and £100 to £200 for maintenance. Receipts were not provided to back up the claims.

However, in April 2008, when the rules were changed so MPs had to provide receipts for any claims above £25, his expense claims dropped sharply.

Laws has claimed that he hid his expenses because he wanted to keep his relationship private. It should of course be of no consequence that he is gay, and it should be entirely up to him when, and if, he reveals his sexuality. But it is also true that he is now perfectly happy to sit in government with the institutional homophobes of the Tory Party. And it is not his personal relationships that we are questioning but his financial relations with lobbyists.

And while he demands we suffer cuts in jobs and services, the millionaire was happy to fiddle his expenses. It is yet more corruption and yet more hypocrisy. He should go.


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News
Sat 29 May 2010, 19:00 BST
Issue No. 2203
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