Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Monday, 16 May 2011 18:43 UK

David Laws' suspension from Parliament approved by MPs

MPs have approved the suspension of Liberal Democrat MP and former cabinet minister David Laws from Parliament for seven days for "a series of serious breaches" of Commons expenses rules.

The former chief secretary to the Treasury was found by parliamentary commissioner for standards John Lyon to have wrongly claimed expenses to pay rent to his partner and for building work and telephone bills.

On 16 May 2011, Commons Leader Sir George Young opened a short debate on the decision to suspend Mr Laws, saying: "It's always regrettable when the House finds it necessary to suspend an Honourable Member as it does today.

"This has been a lengthy inquiry. The commissioner has completed his inquiry as quickly as is consistent with a need for absolute rigour."

The inquiry found that the MP had paid his partner up to £370 per month above the market rent, and used expenses to contribute £2,000 to building works at the London property they shared.

The report also revealed Mr Laws admitted regularly filing expenses claims just below the £250 threshold which would have meant receipts were required.

The commissioner's findings were accepted by the standards and privileges committee, which recommended that Mr Laws be suspended for seven sitting days.

But the committee did not order Mr Laws to hand back any money because he has already repaid £56,592 - the full amount of his second home allowance claims between July 2006 and July 2009.

Shadow deputy leader of the House Helen Jones told MPs Mr Laws' breaches of the rules were "extremely serious" and were committed over "a very long time".

She said it was therefore "right" that the MP should be suspended.

Mr Laws has said his motivation was to protect his privacy.

In a personal statement to the House last Thursday, the Lib Dem MP apologised "without reservation" to Parliament and his constituents.

The suspension, which will start from 7 June, was approved without a vote.

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