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Coalition 'boosting reform plans'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has insisted that the coalition Government's plans for reform have been strengthened by the need for compromise.

As he and Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled the full details of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat deal, Mr Clegg said they had agreed a five-year programme of "partnership" government.

"Even if you've read 100 party manifestos, you've never read a document like this one," he told an audience of civil servants at the Treasury.

"Not one party's ideas, not even just two parties' ideas, but a joint programme for government based on shared ambitions and shared goals. Compromises have, of course, been made on both sides, but those compromises have strengthened, not weakened, the final result. From different political traditions - conservatism and liberalism - we've come together to forge a single programme drawing on the strengths and traditions of both of our parties."

Mr Clegg, who spoke first as Mr Cameron sat in the audience, said the Government wanted to be defined by "freedom, fairness and responsibility". The agreement covers 31 areas ranging from banking to universities and further education. It commits the coalition Government to introducing a banking levy, and an independent commission will examine the former Lib Dem commitment to separate retail and investment banking - with a report due in a year's time.

The administration will "seek to ensure an injection of private capital into Royal Mail, including opportunities for employee ownership". Post Office Ltd will remain in public ownership, according to the document.

It confirms pledges to scrap the ID card scheme and national identity register, and introduce a Freedom Bill.

Mr Cameron, speaking last after a series of senior Cabinet ministers, admitted that both parties had been forced to sacrifice policies. "Some policies have been lost on both sides, some have been changed and yes, we have had to find ways to deal with the issues where we profoundly disagree," he said.

The Prime Minister said he wanted to be "completely frank" about the compromises that had been made. He said the Tories would deliver many of the things they had promised during the General Election, but acknowledged: "The bad news is that some policies have been changed."

But he went on to insist that the "real news" - and the concept in which he said all Conservatives believe - is that Britain has "strong and stable government in the national interest".

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