No talks held with Labour and Conservatives over education ‘red lines’, Laws confirms

The Liberal Democrats have not held talks with the Conservatives or Labour over their demands for education, David Laws has confirmed.

Speaking exclusively to Schools Week following his speech to the NAHT conference in Liverpool this morning, the education minister said talks over demands for real-terms, per-pupil funding rises and an end to real-terms public sector pay cuts would not happen until after the election.

When asked if any such talks had taken place already, Mr Laws said: “None whatsoever. These are announcements Nick Clegg has made on behalf of the party without any discussion with the other parties.

“The time for discussion with the other parties is if there is a hung parliament and if we are potentially part of the coalition, but these are our policy decisions.”

When pressed on rumours Nick Clegg might try to install him as education secretary in the event of another coalition including the Liberal Democrats, Mr Laws said that was a matter for his party leader and sought to downplay his own role in the party, despite the fact he was a key member of the negotiating team in 2010.

He said: “Those kinds of issues are for Nick Clegg, not for junior people like me. Nick has talked about how important education is to the Liberal Democrats and has talked about how good it would be at some stage to be running the department but I leave issues like that until after the election and to people who are at a leadership level, not minor junior people like me.”

When asked if he would like the job of education secretary, Mr Laws said: “I would like to leave that to Nick Clegg who makes these decisions for our party rather than me.”

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