Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Tuesday, 5 April 2011 13:11 UK

Clegg: Social mobility is the coalition's 'mission'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has told MPs that improving the life chances of children born into low- and middle-income families is the government's "overriding mission".

On 5 April 2011, Mr Clegg was summoned to the despatch box to answer an urgent question on the government's social mobility strategy, tabled by deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman.

He said that in Britain today, the income and social class of parents continued to have a "huge bearing" on a child's prospects. Gaps in development between children from different backgrounds could be detected even at birth, he added.

The strategy would take a "life cycle approach" to social mobility, where the government would "seek to remove the obstacles to mobility in each stage of an individual's life".

But Ms Harman said the Lib Dem leader "gave up the right to pontificate" on the subject when he "betrayed a generation of young people" by scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and increasing university tuition fees in England.

She told MPs that mobility now meant a "bus down to the job centre" for many young people.

"He may be a man on a mission but with him at the helm it's mission impossible," she quipped.

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