David Laws has done the right thing in resigning. What he did broke the spirit of the rules and possibly the letter of them too. Only he can know for sure but he is probably also right to say that it would have been extremely difficult for him to focus 100 per cent on the crucial work of sorting out the country's finances over the next few months.
I hope in time he returns to government. First, unlike so many Ministers in the last government, he has done the honourable thing and resigned quickly rather than clinging on to office. Second, unlike many of the MPs who broke the rules in the last Parliament he didn't do so in a way that was designed to benefit him financially. Third and most importantly, he was doing a crucial job and doing it well. Nothing is more important to the future of this country than getting the deficit under control: this resignation is therefore very bad news for the coalition and for the country as a whole. On Wednesday morning, I sat behind David and watched as he calmly responded to a series of questions from the Labour benches. One answer in particular stuck out - a Labour MP was criticising him for removing ringfencing from government grants to local councils (in other words, allowing councils to spend the money government gives them how they want); he replied by pointing out the philosophical difference between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on the one hand and New Labour on the other - unlike them, we don't believe central government knows best.
One final thought: despite the progress we have made during my lifetime, it is a sad reflection on our society in 2010 that so many people find it difficult to be open about who they are.