Hung Parliament: Lib Dem statement on Tory deal talks
David Laws MP: Lib Dems "have asked for clarification" from Tories
The Lib Dems have given an update on the state of their talks with the Conservatives about forming a government.
This is a transcript of the statement by David Laws, one of their negotiating team, and his response to questions by journalists.
David Laws: I have a few points to make following the meeting of the parliamentary party today. We have just had a very good meeting and extensive discussion. It has been briefed on the negotiations with the Conservative Party over the last few days, and also the representations that have been made by the Labour Party.
The parliamentary party has agreed that the central priority must be to form a strong and stable government in the national interest. The parliamentary party agreed that the proposals that have been discussed with the Conservative Party and that were aired today, reflect very good progress on a number of points.
But they have also asked for clarification of details in relation to education funding, in relation to fair taxes, and in relation to issues in regard to voting reform and progress on that issue.
The parliamentary party has agreed that the leader will continue to listen to the representations that are coming from the leader of the Labour Party, that clarification will be sought from the Conservative Party on the particular points that I have just mentioned. They have also agreed that it is vital that progress should be made on all of these matters as soon as possible in the national interest.
The parliamentary party has also agreed that deficit reduction and a plan to bring down the deficit as soon as possible must be at the heart of any agreement. I'm just going to take a couple of questions and then finish.
Nick Robinson (BBC): Are you not in danger of playing both sides while the country waits and the markets quake?
David Laws: No. What we are seeking to do is to make sure that we get a government which is not only going to be stable in the national interest, so it can deliver and meet the very difficult challenges that there presently are, in terms of political reform and the economic situation, although we are very conscious of the need to make these decisions quickly, and that was a clear decision of the parliamentary party today, we also want to make sure we get these matters right.
This discussion is dependant not only on the Liberal Democrat party, but also on the proposals and discussions that are on going with the Conservative Party, and the representations that, frankly, are being made by the Labour Party.
Gary Gibbon (Channel 4 News): Can you be clear with us, are you actually discussing a coalition at the moment, or something like that, or a different sort of arrangement? Is there a possibility you could go into an agreement with Labour, even with, by most reckonings, they lost the election?
David Laws: Without going into excessive detail, which, no doubt, you won't want me to do! The very clear signal sent out today by our parliamentary party, is they believe it is vital we must have stable and strong government for this country, so the government of this country is able to tackle the economic problems that we have got, to bring down the deficit, and to tackle political problems, that is central in any agreement that is made that the Liberal Democrats are part of.
Michael Crick (BBC Newsnight): Are you making more progress with the Conservatives than Labour?
David Laws: We have been in negotiations with the Conservative Party, because they are the party with the largest number of seats and votes. That is the commitment that Nick Clegg gave during the election campaign. We have had very good discussions with them, we have made very good progress.
The parliamentary party were very pleased to hear about some of the proposals made by the Conservative Party. That has been in a wide variety of areas. I think William Hague, in his statements yesterday and today, indicated some of the areas we have discussed and made progress on.
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