david laws

Jim Pickard

Allegra Stratton at the Guardian set the ball rolling yesterday on whether the Lib Dems are planning a new type of mansion tax – albeit under a different name.
The proposal is being kicked around by senior Lib Dem figures (such as Richard Reeves, policy wonk to Nick Clegg) but is meeting resistance from Tories. It is also unpopular with other Lib Dems such as David Laws (who is playing a key role in co-writing their “Tax 2020″ document). That’s right: Laws does not want it.
Wealthy FT readers in big houses may rest easy for a while longer.
Here’s our news take on it:
Owners of £1m-plus homes would have to pay capital gains tax when they sell up under attempts by senior Liberal Democrats to revive their “mansion tax” proposals.
At present CGT is paid at 28 per cent when a second home is sold but main residences are exempt from the levy.
But Lib Dems are considering whether sellers could be forced to pay the duty on any profits beyond a £1m tax-free threshold – a policy which could bring in billions for the exchequer.
Treasury officials have had discussions with experts in the property industry to find out how many people live in multi-million pound homes and where they are located.
However, the proposals are likely to meet fierce resistance from Tory ministers given that many Conservative voters live in homes worth more than £1m.
Vince Cable, as opposition Treasury spokesman, was forced to revise his original “mansion tax” proposal – an annual levy on big homes – after the Lib Dems realised that it would harm many of their suburban voters in south-west London.
The business secretary’s attempts to revive the mansion tax as a device to

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This could have been better for David Laws. The punishment imposed by the standards committee is at the worse end of expectations, at least among Lib Dems. One government figure told me he will not be returning as a minister “anytime soon”.

But, particularly in this case, it is important to define terms. If you start from the premise that the didn’t do anything seriously wrong and should be reappointed immediately, this is a terrible conclusion to the investigation. Read more

Jim Pickard

Political historians will be raking over May’s coalition talks for many years to come to establish an ever deeper level of detail and nuance.

We already know a fair amount about the talks that took place between a Lib Dem team of negotiators and their counterparts from the Tory and Labour parties. Yet there are still various interpretations of how the discussions played out.

This morning I watched David Laws and Lord Adonis give their subtly different versions of events five months after they occurred. Read more

Jim Pickard

Esquire magazine is this month tipping five coalition MPs as future cabinet ministers as part of a piece naming 20 future high-fliers in Westminster.

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Jim Pickard

In the spring of 2008, just as the drip-drip of revelations about MPs’ expenses was starting to gather momentum, I was despatched to write a magazine feature article for the Weekend FT about Britain’s politicians: were they paid too much for the job they did?

Seeking to write a balanced piece, I made sure that I interviewed at least one MP who exemplified public service; someone who had stepped down from a highly-paid City job to take a relatively low salary at the Liberal Democrats – the party which would never (as it then seemed) take power. His name was David Laws.

I spent a Friday in Laws’ constituency of Yeovil, watching him deal with constituents’ complaints in a diligent and attentive manner. Afterwards we had a pint in a local pub; I told him I could never understand why anyone would want to be an MP, with people trawling through your private life. His answer was non-committal. He struck me – much as he has since – as polite, slightly prim, self-contained and highly intelligent.

When the Telegraph revelations were published a year ago I was quietly relieved that Laws was unscathed.

Fast-foward two years and Laws is the first casualty of the Lib-Con coalition, as ft.com reports tonight. His position as chief secretary to the Treasury had become untenable after he said he would repay £40,000 of expenses claimed for rent paid to his boyfriend; since 2006 MPs were not allowed to lease accommodation from their partners. Read more