Cadbury Schweppes has had talks with Education Secretary Ruth Kelly about a possible role running schools - as the Government prepares to ban chocolate from colleges.

The firm, which employs 3,000 people at the Cadbury chocolate factory in Bournville, Birmingham, met Ms Kelly at her invitation earlier this week.

The Government plans to create a new category of school called trust schools, which will be managed by private-sector organisations including charities, religious groups or businesses.

Computer giant Microsoft and consultants KPMG took part in public talks with Ms Kelly and Tony Blair on Monday, but it has emerged that a number of companies including Cadbury Schweppes held private discussions at the same time.

Last night a Cadbury Schweppes spokeswoman said the firm had taken part in talks about trust schools but had no intention of running a school.

Ms Kelly has vowed that vending machines selling crisps, fizzy drinks and chocolate will be banned from September.

It follows pressure from campaigners including a number of Labour MPs who feared junk food companies were contributing to child obesity.

The Commons Health Select Committee singled out Cadbury in a scathing report.

It followed an evidence session in the House of Commons in which a Cadbury director told MPs: "I do not think that a Curly Wurly is a dangerous thing."

Last night MP Lynne Jones (Lab Selly Oak), who has opposed the Government's education reforms, said: "Cadbury already run some excellent schemes in which their staff work with schools, and that is the best way for them to be involved with schools.

"They have a good record for social responsibility, and there are other people with the expertise to run schools. It is not Cadbury I object to but the general principle behind trust schools."

Ken Purchase (Lab Wolverhampton North East) said: "I am glad Cadbury don't seem to be interested, as I believe industrialists are better off running industry and educationalists are better off running education."

A spokeswoman for Cad-bury Schweppes said: "We were invited for discussions by the Department for Education. There is no intention for us to found a trust school."

Other companies involved in the private meeting with Mrs Kelly included Toshiba and French utilities company EDF. ..SUPL: