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10 March 2011

David Laws’s return to cabinet looks ever more certain

Cameron and Clegg have held private discussions about appointing Laws to oversee coalition policy.

By Samira Shackle

It appears ever more certain that David Laws will be given a ministerial post, overseeing all areas of government policy, if he is cleared of breaking Commons expenses rules.

Kevin Maguire suggested in the NS last month that Laws was refusing all appointments after mid-March, implying that his return to government could be imminent.

Now, it seems, there is a clearer idea about what form this role could take. The Independent reports that Nick Clegg and David Cameron have discussed appointing Laws to work alongside Oliver Letwin and Francis Maude at the Cabinet Office. Under this proposal, Laws – who stepped down after it emerged that he had claimed expenses to pay the rent of his partner, James Lundie – would be responsible for co-ordinating and driving through all aspects of coalition policy together with Letwin.

The newly created position would not be a full cabinet post, as that would upset the careful balance of the coalition, but it is highly likely to come with the right to attend cabinet.

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Moreover, it would increase Lib Dem representation within the coalition and ease the pressure on both Clegg and Danny Alexander, who currently has responsibility for this role as well as acting as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

If Laws was appointed to the position, it would allow Alexander, who is reportedly stretched to the limit, to concentrate on Treasury matters. It wouldn’t be a huge jump for Laws, who has stayed closed to Clegg and was recently charged with coming up with fresh policies for his party.

While his reappointment to a ministerial post is dependent on the verdict of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Laws will be key either way to the Lib Dems’ strategy and policy in the run-up to the next election.