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British treasury minister quits

May 30 2010 09:16

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London - British Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws resigned on Saturday after revelations about his parliamentary expenses, in a move seen as an effort to limit damage to the new coalition government.

Prime Minister David Cameron replaced Laws, number two to the finance minister, within 24 hours of his apology for what the Daily Telegraph newspaper said was his claim of tens of thousands of pounds in parliamentary expenses for rent he passed on to his long-term partner.

"I do not see how I can carry on my crucial work on the budget and spending review while I have to deal with the private and public implications of recent revelations," Laws said in his resignation statement.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, told BBC television: "David Laws has taken a very painful decision today. It was his decision alone."

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron called Laws' decision "honourable" and Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) George Osborne expressed sadness at his sudden departure.

Osborne said in a statement it was "as if he had been put on earth" to do the job of Treasury Chief Secretary.

Laws, who was given a key role within the government of cutting government spending to tackle Britain's record budget deficit, was swiftly replaced by another Liberal Democrat, Scottish Secretary Danny Alexander.

Alexander will now take over the role of seeing through a series of tough austerity measures needed to save Britain billions of pounds.

Some of those austerity measures were laid down last week, when an initial £6.2bn of departmental savings were announced, including cutting down on ministerial perks.

A virtual unknown outside the Westminster political bubble, Laws' profile rose during the election campaign as Clegg's chief of staff.

 

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