David Laws in custody battle over piece of paper

Liam Byrne 'there is no money left' note

On taking over briefly as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2010, Liberal Democrat David Laws famously received a note from his Labour predecessor Liam Byrne saying “I’m afraid there is no money”. There’s now a bureaucratic tussle over who has custody of that piece of paper:

The fifteen- word note was repeatedly used against Labour as proof it failed to take the country’s finances seriously.

Mr Laws, who lost his seat in the last general election, said former Treasury permanent secretary Sir Nicholas Macpherson had written to him demanding he handed over the note…

Mr Laws also received a separate demand from the Government’s National Archives, which said it was “an important political document which must be preserved for the nation”…

“As far as I am concerned, it’s mine,” [David Laws] said. “I don’t see why I should hand it over. It’s in safe keeping and I’ll leave it to the nation in my will.”

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