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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Profile: David Laws
David Laws
Mr Laws gave up a City career for politics
A sharp-suited former City high flyer, David Laws has risen rapidly through the Liberal Democrat ranks since he entered Parliament in 2001.

The former investment banker is among a new breed of young Lib Dem MPs whose promotion of more free market policies is in contrast with the party's left-leaning traditions.

The 41-year-old was co-author of the Orange Book, a 2004 collection of essays by Lib Dem rising stars about the party's future policy direction.

In it, he called for a return to the "traditional building blocks of liberalism", including free trade and a belief in the effectiveness of the private sector.

Impressive

And, in a further sign of his determination to forge a new direction for the party, he went on to criticise "soggy socialism and corporatism".

Mr Laws has also called for limits on European Union powers, an end to the Common Agricultural Policy and a smaller role for the state in welfare provision, with an end to means-testing.

He has been singled out as the most impressive possible leadership contender by ex-Conservative MPs turned commentators Matthew Parris and Michael Portillo.

In his Sunday Times column, Mr Portillo said Mr Laws "looks good on television and sounds eminently reasonable", although he lacked the charisma of Tory leader David Cameron.

Mr Laws enjoyed a successful career in the City before taking over former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown's Yeovil seat in 2001.

Frontbench role

He was educated at St George's College, Weybridge, an independent Catholic school, and King's College, Cambridge, where he gained a double first in economics.

He rose to be a vice-president of JP Morgan in his 20s, and was also managing director of Barclays de Zoete Wedd.

He quit the world of finance in 1994 to become economic adviser to the Lib Dems and, subsequently, their director of policy.

After entering the Commons, Mr Laws joined the Treasury select committee between 2001, before being appointed to the Lib Dem frontbench team as shadow to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

After the 2005 general election, he was promoted to the work and pensions brief.

He managed to increase this role, impressing Sir Menzies Campbell, who moved Mr Laws to the schools and children brief earlier this year.

Mr Laws, who is single and enjoys athletics and rugby, has ruled himself out of the race to succeed Sir Menzes but has not yet pledged his support for another candidate.

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