Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

Clegg sets conditions for Lib Dem post-election deal

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg may play a vital role if there is a hung Parliament

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg says he will pose four "tests" to Labour and the Conservatives if they try to seek his support in a hung Parliament.

He said he would demand they commit to reform of the tax system, more spending on education for poorer children and a switch to a greener economy.

The fourth requirement would be voting reform in Westminster, he added.

He did not say whether he would rather work with Labour or the Tories, but no pre-election "deals" would be done.

£10bn deficit repayment

Mr Clegg spoke ahead of the Lib Dem spring conference in Birmingham this weekend where he is expected to set out his spending plans.

The BBC understands that under a Lib Dem government, there would be no overall spending cuts in 2010/11, but £3.3bn of savings would be made and reinvested in areas such as job creation and bringing derelict homes back into use.

Formal spending cuts would begin in 2011/12 if the Lib Dems think economic recovery allows it, and by the following year would amount to £15bn saved - £5bn of this would go back into the public purse, while the remaining £10bn would go towards cutting the UK's budget deficit.

We are here to secure a big mandate for the big changes we want in Britain
Nick Clegg
Lib Dem leader

The Lib Dems have regularly accused the other parties of not setting out the full scale of spending cuts that will be required, but has tended to argue that the economic recovery could be endangered by reducing public spending too quickly.

Both Labour and the Conservatives are likely to rely on a mixture of cuts and taxation to reduce the nation's debt burden.

In an interview with the Independent newspaper on Thursday, Mr Clegg said that in the event of a hung Parliament he would talk to both parties about their stance on his "four steps to fairness".

'Big mandate'

Top of the list is a pledge to raise the threshold for paying income tax to £10,000 a year from 2011/12, funded by changing the taxes paid by the better off.

His four tests also include a commitment to a Pupil Premium, which would go to schools for each pupil entitled to a free school meal and be worth about £2,500 extra per child.

Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable has previously said pledges like these would be paid for by scrapping a series of government policies, including child trust funds, identity cards, a massive NHS computer system and the renewal of the Trident nuclear missile system.

A freeze on the public sector pay bill, scrapping bonuses for civil servants and a review of public sector pensions are also on the Lib Dem agenda.

Mr Clegg told the Independent: "We are here to secure a big mandate for the big changes we want in Britain.

"Once we know the lie of the land after the election, we have to work out the best way to do that."

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