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.
Prominent Liberal Democrat party figure Baroness Shirley Williams has paid tribute to Sarah Teather after her announcement that she is standing down as an MP in 2015.
The Liberal Democrats have defended the party's "proud record" in the coalition following departing former minister Sarah Teather's stinging criticisms.
Departing Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather has said the breaking point for her faith in her party came when it backed the Tories' planned cap on welfare, while she was in Government.
"It was the moment of realising that my own party was just as afraid of public opinion as the Labour Party. Something did break for me that was never, ever repaired," she said.
Ms Teather said her role in the Coalition put her in an impossibly compromised position.
"I was spending hours worrying about how to balance fighting for what I believed in and being true to the stuff that took me into politics, while not being disloyal to my colleagues," she said.
A former minister and prominent Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather has announced that she is to quit the House of Commons because she no longer feels that Nick Clegg's party fights sufficiently for social justice and liberal values on immigration.
Teather shot to fame when she became the youngest member of Parliament a decade ago.
She said she was left her feeling so "desolate" and "catastrophically depressed" after Clegg's tougher approach to immigration – including a plan for some immigrants to pay a £1,000 deposit when applying for visas.
Her decision to step down in 2015, reported in the Observer, will come as a blow to Clegg, just a week before his party gathers for its annual conference in Glasgow.
The Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather has blogged about why she voted against the same-sex marriage bill. She was one of only four MPs in her party to do so.
She said it was "one of the most difficult decisions" she has ever taken and that she was torn between her support for liberal gay rights and her commitment to Catholicism.