Live updates

Clegg offers Britain's condolences to Spain after crash

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is on holiday in Spain, has spoken to local media to offer his condolences to the victims of the fatal train crash, according to the Lib Dems:

84762223887b1a17783d5ac8a48daa95_normal

.@nick_clegg has just spoken to Spanish TV to offer the condolences of the British people following the tragic train crash in Galicia.

Advertisement

Free bus travel for children 'weighed by Lib Dems'

Children could be offered free bus travel under plans being considered by the Liberal Democrats, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was reported to be "very keen" on the proposal, which it is hoped would encourage older children to become more independent.

A man with a backpack on a bus.
Children could be offered free bus travel under plans reportedly being considered by the Liberal Democrats. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The report claims free child bus passes could be announced later this year as part of a package of measures that would include the Conservatives' tax break for married couples - a policy which has been ridiculed by the Lib Dem leader.

A senior Lib Dem source said it was too early to say whether the free bus travel plan could be delivered, adding that it was "jumping the gun" to suggest it formed part of the party's negotiating strategy with their Coalition partners.

Councillor released on bail after indecent images arrest

The Met Police said a 59-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday in Kingston, on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children.

He was taken into custody at a south London police station and bailed to a date in August.

According to the London Councils' website, Liberal Democrat Kingston-Upon-Thames council leader, Councillor Derek Osbourne, was first elected as a councillor in 1986 before becoming leader between 1997 and 1998, and again in 2003.

He was parliamentary candidate for Kingston upon Thames in 1992 fighting the then Chancellor Norman Lamont.

Council leader resigns over indecent child images arrest

A Liberal Democrat council leader has resigned after being arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children.

Councillor Derek Osbourne, who has been leader of Kingston upon Thames since 2003, was arrested by police on Tuesday.

Derek Osbourne has resigned from the Liberal Democrat Group.

We are deeply shocked by these allegations but I am unable to comment further as we must now allow the police the time and space they need to investigate the allegations thoroughly and without prejudice.

– Councillor Liz Green on the Kingston Borough Liberal Democrat website.

The new acting leader of Kingston Council said the local Liberal Democrat group were "deeply shocked" by the arrest.

Advertisement

Lansley defends Government's childcare stance

Leader of the Commons Andrew Lansley was forced to defend the Government's stance on childcare after Nick Clegg blocked Conservative plans to review the ratio of nursery staff to children.

Labour MP Andy Sawford told Mr Lansley it was "shocking" there had not been a statement to the House of Commons on the issue.

Nick Clegg said there was "no real evidence" that the Conservative plans would reduce childcare costs.
Nick Clegg said there was "no real evidence" that the Conservative plans would reduce childcare costs. Credit: ITV News

"If you will not arrange a statement, can you at least tell us what the current policy is? The Deputy Prime Minister said yesterday it's been dropped - you told us this morning it's being reviewed", he continued. "What is the policy? It's a shambles".

Mr Lansley replied: "Our policy is to ensure the quality of childcare increases and the affordability for parents is improved.

"That is what we are setting out to do, it's what we will do. As soon as policies have been agreed, there will be an opportunity for that to be brought to the House for announcement".

PM spokesman: There has been a childcare consultation

After the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he had blocked Tory children plans, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told reporters:

"There has been a consultation and the Government will set out the final package of measures shortly".

"When the Government responds, it will take full account of the responses to the consultation and that will guide the package."

Asked whether Mr Clegg had informed Mr Cameron in advance of today's announcement that cuts in childcare ratios had been ruled out, the spokesman said:

"The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have discussed childcare a great deal, as you would expect, given that it is a very important part of Government policy."

Clegg denies breaking agreement on childcare plans

Nick Clegg said it was "flatly wrong" to accuse him of breaking any agreement with other ministers over changes to the childcare system.

Speaking on LBC radio, Mr Clegg said he did not agree to the Conservative-led plans, adding, "What we agreed at the time was that we would consult on this proposal and not make our minds up finally until we had heard from people".

Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg pictured at a nursery in March.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg pictured at a nursery in March. Credit: Jeremy Selwyn/PA Wire

The Deputy Prime Minister said replies to the consultation from nurseries, parents' groups and other experts overwhelmingly suggested it was a bad idea.

He went on: "I know everyone gets sort of hot under the collar in the Westminster village, but I have a very straightforward view - if you have an idea that is controversial, you ask people what they think.

"When you have asked them what they think, listen to what they say, listen to what parents say, look at the evidence and then make up your mind".

Education charity 'delighted' with Clegg intervention

The chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance said the charity is "absolutely delighted" at Nick Clegg's intervention over the Conservative's "ill-advised" childcare plan.

Neil Leitch said:

It is a real testimony to the strength of those practitioners and parents who campaigned so actively over the past few months to challenge these plans.

The sector is supportive of the Government's aims to raise the status and quality of the childcare workforce. But this proposal was not the way to achieve this.

There is no doubt that relaxing ratios would have lowered the overall quality of childcare in this country.

Not only would children have received less one-to-one support from childcare workers, but their well-being would also have been put at serious risk.

Load more updates

Advertisement

Today's top stories