As it happened: Monday at the Lib Dem conference 2012

Key points

  • The Liberal Democrat conference is taking place in Brighton
  • Business Secretary Vince Cable announced new business bank
  • Danny Alexander praised the coalition's record in a Q&A session
  • Delegates debated reducing 30mph speed limits to 20mph in England
  • Away from Brighton pressure continued on Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell
  • Sir Menzies Campbell said Mr Mitchell's apology failed to end the row

Live text

Reporting:

  • Pippa Simm 
  • Ed Lowther 

Last updated 25 September 2012

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Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the Liberal Democrat conference 2012 in Brighton.

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In the conference hall, delegates are discussing a motion on science and research.

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Highlights from today's agenda include a speech from Business Secretary Vince Cable at 12.20pm. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander hosts a Q&A on the coalition's record in office, at 3.30pm. There will also be debates on employee ownerships, growth and jobs, sustainable prosperity and party membership fees.

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Mr Cable is expected to announce that the government is to put £1bn into setting up a bank designed to boost lending to businesses.

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BBC business editor Robert Peston has analysed the scheme. "This is an attempt at serious structural financial reform to provide longer term, stable loans to smaller businesses, not a quick fix. The bank will take at least 18 months to get going, so will do nothing to tackle the current perceived shortage of loans for smaller businesses," he said.

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Former Lib Dem Leader Sir Menzies Campbell has said Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell's apology has failed to shut down the row over his outburst at a policeman. He said: "We have got into a curious position - he's not yet able to say unequivocally what he did and didn't say... This story still has legs."

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Meanwhile, Labour is stepping up its attack on Mr Mitchell. Shadow policing minister David Hanson has described the chief whip's response as "simply not enough". "He still hasn't told us what happened or whether he called police officers 'plebs'," Mr Hanson complained, calling for a investigation by the cabinet secretary into the matter.

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But Deputy PM Nick Clegg suggested that Mr Mitchell has found redemption. "I think the fact that Andrew Mitchell has been as clear as he has that he is contrite about this, that he knows what he did was wrong, that he's apologised to the police officer, [who] has in return accepted the apology is important," he told BBC Radio 4.

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Dr Jenny Woods is wrapping up the current debate in the conference hall, which is on a motion calling for an increase in science funding. She says the policy is vital "to return health to the economy".