A former Conservative education minister has allegedlysuggested that the Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather was a poor families minister because she has no children.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Tim Loughton said Miss Teather, who has no children, failed to support married couples in office because she “doesn’t really believe in family”.
Mr Loughton, who was speaking to activists at the Conservative Renewal conference in Windsor, said: "The person who was actually in charge of family policy amongst the ministerial team at the DfE [Department for Education] was Sarah Teather.
"Which was a bit difficult because she doesn't really believe in family. She certainly didn't produce one of her own. So it became a bit of a family-free zone. I think that is a huge disappointment."
Mr Loughton has since tweeted that his words had been "distorted" by journalists, and were "not a personal attack" on Miss Teather.
The MP said he was "sorry" and his criticism was "not intended or fair" and was meant to be of Lib Dem family policy rather than of Miss Teather.
Department for Education workers have voted to go on strike in a row over spending cuts, the Public and Commercial Services union said.
The Education Secretary Michael Gove has denied any knowledge of who in his department described an outgoing minister as a"lazy, incompetent narcissist obsessed only with self-promotion".
Tim Loughton, who was sacked as children's minister in the last reshuffle, was denounced in a briefing to the Spectator magazine by an anonymous source in Department for Education.
Mr Gove insisted he did not know who made the briefing and said Mr Loughton "far from being incompetent ... was a talented and effective minister who made a difference".
Under changes unveiled by the Department for Education today, schools will be given more freedom to pay teachers according to their performance from September.
Under the current system, teachers automatically progress through pay grades depending on their length of service. But the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), which is tasked with making recommendations to the Government, has called for pay to be more closely related to performance.
STRB chair Dame Patricia Hodgson said the reforms would "help schools to recruit, retain and reward the best teachers".
Commando Joes’, which will receive around £600,000 from the £1.9 million initiative, said that it combined teamwork and fitness "with a gentle military-style approach".
However, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), told The Independent that self-discipline and teamwork were objectives “that schools instil in pupils day in day out, the majority having never been anywhere near the military”.
The government is today launching a £1.9 million initiative which will see ex-soldiers visit troubled youngsters to pass on values taught in the military.
Daybreak's Tiffany Royce is put through her paces at a school in West Wickham by ex-army personnel.
£1.9 million funding for 4 projects which employ former troops to improve educational achievement among pupils disengaged with education.
Former soldiers are to give military-style training to improve discipline and raise results among pupils who have been expelled or have behavioural issues.
Daybreak's Tiffany Royce visits Hawes Down Infant School in West Wickham to see the Government's new scheme in action.
The Government funding has probably fast-tracked us by about five or 10 years. The instructors are all ex-military personnel - they are role models and kids look up to and aspire to be like them. When we go to a school playground children hang on every word.
In some of the deprived areas we work in, young people have not got grassy areas or anywhere to go. When they come to our sessions they get a chance to socialise in a different way, to be part of a team.
Our motto is No Child Left Behind - we will work with every child and young person to help them feel motivated to learn and be part of their school and community again.
Former bomb disposal expert Mike Hamilton, 32, who served in the Royal Engineers for eight years - including two tours of Iraq and one of Afghanistan - formed Commando Joes' after leaving the army.
As well as a personal trainer, he was a member of a bomb disposal squad - on one occasion helping clear a whole minefield in an Iraqi village so children could play safely.
He went on to work as part of a recruitment team in the UK and during visits to schools noticed a need to help disillusioned pupils.
Starting Commando Joes as an after-school activity at schools in Manchester in 2009, he has slowly expanded, recruiting extra instructors to teach military-style fitness and one-to-one mentoring, as well as tailor-made team-building exercises and activities.