'Unprecedented' power for Clegg

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Nick Clegg has been handed far-reaching influence over the workings of the Government, making him the most powerful Deputy Prime Minister of modern times, an unprecedented coalition agreement has revealed.

Mr Clegg will have a say in government reshuffles, policy disputes and will even wield influence over the Budget, according to a four-page document drawn up to formalise the workings of the coalition. The Liberal Democrat leader will also play a key role in resolving arguments between the parties.

These are much greater powers than those of either John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister under Tony Blair, or Lord Mandelson, Gordon Brown's de facto deputy.

Under the terms of what amounts to a coalition contract, Mr Clegg will have a seat on eight out of nine Cabinet committees hammering out government policy. He will chair the committee on domestic affairs, which will give him a major say in key policies on law and order, education and the NHS.