A conversation overheard at a meeting of the Parliamentary Double Standards Committee:

Newspaper owners of all colours are worried about David Laws. He has had to resign for something about which we really ought to have been more understanding.

He took money he wasn't entitled to and didn't declare it. It’s against the new Commons rules and is often called fraudulent conversion. End of argument.

Good Lord, how terribly unsophisticated of you. Look at the context. He didn’t say anything because it would have meant revealing a homosexual relationship, and he's a 'very shy man'. Plus, his old-fashioned Catholic parents didn’t know he was gay.

So? He still took enough public money to build nearly 25 duck houses.

He's highly valued by his colleagues.

Because of his gift for finding ways to make universities scrap smaller departments, reduce employment in local government and generally make life harder for people who haven’t stolen anything at all?

Mr Laws is a very able man.

If he had been less able, sacking him would have been in order?

You're twisting my words. Anyway, he wasn’t just able. He had been a banker. He understood money and what has to be done with it.

Yes, the bankers have really shown in the last few years that they understand money and what should be done with it.

Absolutely. Er, That is... but dammit that was big time and had very serious consequences.

And this is a piffling forty grand which in the world of very able, highly valued people isn’t serious?

Not a nice thing to say, old chap. But look. Lets get real. Lets do candour. The Lib Dems have been severely embarrassed and the Tories have lost, well lets face it, one of their own.

So a rich man taking money away from universities and jobs away from people, who happens to have taken a few quid for himself, has done no wrong?

I wouldn’t say absolutely no wrong but...

The sort of moderate, par-for-the-course wrong you can rub along with?

Absolutely!