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Lib Dem spring conference

Hundreds of Liberal Democrat activists will descend on the Sage in Gateshead later today for their annual spring conference. The meeting comes at a crucial time for the government as it struggles to get the controversial NHS reform bill through parliament.

Many party members also have their own reservations about the plans. On Sunday delegates will attempt to defy the party leadership by voting for the bill to be dropped entirely. Ministers including party leader Nick Clegg are keen to avoid a humiliating defeat.