Leaked Clegg letter escalates childcare row

The row over childcare deepens.

I have obtained a copy of an exchange of letters between childcare minister Liz Truss and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, last December.

It makes clear that Ms Truss flagged up the change in ratios of carers to children as "the most high profile of my proposals".

Mr Clegg in his reply just before Christmas gives her the clearance to press ahead with the consultation as long as it proved affordable within the Education department's budgets.

Some Tory sources ask why Mr Clegg did not raise his concerns about safety and impracticality at the time.

They also claim that Mr Clegg agreed to the new childcare ratios and it was simply the new levels of qualifications that were up for consultation.

But the Lib Dems insist that Mr Clegg signed up to a consultation, not a policy, and they are simply responding to the concerns many thousands of people have raised.

It was never disputed, they say, that Mr Clegg backed the consultation.

Who ever said policymaking in coalition was easy?