The Times (£) reports that former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has nominated former Yeovil MP, David Laws, for elevation to the House of Lords. However, it adds:
His nomination for a peerage was blocked by the House of Lords Appointments Commission, chaired by an independent peer, Lord Kakkar.
The Times says that this comes “after his involvement in the expenses scandal” without specifically nailing the expenses saga as the reason for the blocking. However, the Mail goes further saying:
The seven-strong commission, chaired by the Independent peer Lord Kakkar, a distinguished hospital surgeon, blocked the honour because of his expenses.
For background on the expenses history related to David Laws, please read this summary of the inquiry verdict here on Liberal Democrat Voice in May 2011. David Laws said at that time:
I accept the conclusions of the Inquiry and take full responsibility for the mistakes which I have made. I apologise to my constituents and to Parliament. Each of us should be our own sternest critic, and I recognise that my attempts to keep my personal life private were in conflict with my duty as an MP to ensure that my claims were in every sense above reproach. I should have resolved this dilemma in the public interest and not in the interests of my privacy.
However, from the moment these matters became public, I have made clear that my motivation was to protect my privacy, rather than to benefit from the system of parliamentary expenses, and I am pleased that the Commissioner has upheld that view.
I have also, from the very beginning, made clear that I believed that my secrecy about my private life led me to make lower overall claims than would otherwise be the case, and this has been confirmed by the Parliamentary Commissioner and by the Committee. The taxpayer gained, rather than lost out, from my desire for secrecy, though I fully accept that this is not an adequate reason for breaking the rules.
This last year has been a difficult one, and I am grateful to family, friends, constituents and colleagues for their support and understanding.
The Times also reports in the same story (£) that David Laws “had been in line to become one of 11 (new) Liberal Democrat peers” to be announced shortly by David Cameron. One assumes that number is now ten, which will still, interestingly, outnumber our MPs in the House of Commons and possibly be the same number or more than the amount of new Labour peers to be announced at the same time. The logic appears to be that these Liberal Democrats are being rewarded for long public service including (perhaps especially) in government.
It is perhaps fun to speculate as to who the ten will be. Simon Hughes has been knighted and recently ruled himself out. Danny Alexander has rejected the idea of a peerage. Vince Cable has said he doesn’t want one apparently, but that was in the same report that said David Laws didn’t want one either. Norman Baker has also ruled out an elevation. I very much doubt that Nick Clegg would create the need for a by-election in Sheffeld Hallam by accepting a peerage. It’s not going to happen in my view, but I’ll prepare my Whitehall/streaking plan just in case.
So here’s my personal, speculative, list of the possible new ten Liberal Democrat peers, as a bit of Saturday night knockabout fun – feel free to correct me in the comments below and I’ll update the list based on feedback:
Sir Menzies Campbell
Sir Alan Beith
Sir Malcolm Bruce
Sir Nick Harvey
Sir Andrew Stunnell
In making the list of ten I didn’t include these former MPs:
David Heath (Update:swopped with Lorely Burt)
Steve Webb (Update: swopped with Sharon Bowles)
Sir Robert Smith
…and other spring chickens like Ed Davey and Jenny Willott who I doubt want to take themselves out of the possibility of a return to the Commons – but, again, I have my Whitehall streak plan ready.