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Lib Dems are 'children's party'

"Children, children, children" seems to be the new mantra adopted as of last weekend by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, at their annual conference in Perth.

It was essentially part of the riposte of Jim Wallace, Deputy First Minister, to those supporters who believe the party is becoming submerged by the Labour majority in the Scottish Executive.

Mr Wallace hailed the efforts of Euan Robson, Deputy Education Minister, and Robert Brown, chairman of the parliamentary education committee, who "are already driving major reforms of education". He pointed out that the Executive announced education reforms last November which delivered on 16 Liberal Democrat manifesto commitments.

Mr Wallace said the party's next commitment would be a plan "to revolutionise children's hopes and aspirations". This would involve investing in childcare and out of school hours activities.

There would be an entitlement of a week's outdoor activity for all pupils during their time in secondary school, the right to free swimming for all children and opportunities to become involved in a range of weekend activities.

"We want to invest in all our children, not just when they turn to crime or antisocial behaviour," Mr Wallace said, in an apparent swipe at the First Minister who has made these issues a touchstone of policy.

"The Liberal Democrat agenda is children - able children, healthy children, confident children," Mr Wallace declared.

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