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March 10, 2009 12:01 AM

Under a Liberal Democrat Government, all families would be given 20 hours of free, high quality childcare and fathers could take up to one year of paternity leave.

The plans were adopted at the recent Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in Harrogate.

The proposals include:

•Providing 20 hours of free, good quality childcare a week from 18 months to five years old

•Ensuring all childcare workers are qualified to a minimum level

•Improving the quality of childcare by expanding the role of children's centres as training institutions

•Providing 19 months paternity leave, shared between both parents making it easier for fathers to play a fuller role

Ron Beadle, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle North, said: "As a parent with two young children, I know how difficult it can be to find suitable childcare.

"The need for flexible and affordable childcare has never been more urgent with many families needing to work even longer hours to make ends meet.

"The Liberal Democrats are committed to giving all children the best start in life, and to providing families with the help they need to organise their busy lives.

"That's why we would allow parents to share 19 months paternity leave, and provide free, good quality childcare for all toddlers over 18 months."