Thursday, 9 December 2010

Uni Fees Treble Amid Commons Rebellion

Students protesting as the coalition voted to treble fees

By Ben Aulakh

Students in England will see their university fees treble to £9000 per year after controversial proposals were passed today by the coalition government.

Despite facing a massive back-bench rebellion, the deeply unpopular legislation passed by 21 votes, despite thousands of students protesting against the proposals outside parliament.

The final tally showed 323 voting in favour of the new fees structure, with 302 voting against, slashing the coalition’s parliamentary majority by more than three quarters.

National Union of Students President Aaron Porter said, “We've taken to the streets in our thousands, won the arguments and the battle for public opinion.

“We have lost in the House of Commons today because MPs have broken their promises; we are incredibly disappointed and angry with the politicians who have let us down so badly.

Mounted police charged at protestors outside parliament, with lines of officers surrounding demonstrators as they marched through the city.

Around twenty people were treated for injuries by the London Ambulance Service, with six being taken to hospital.

Liberal Democrat Ministerial aide’s Jenny Willott and Mike Crockart, as well as Tory aide Lee Scott resigned over the vote, after voting against the coalition government.

Mr Porter added, “They have voted for a policy they know is unfair, unnecessary and wrong, however, this is not the end.

“Our protests and our work have sparked a new wave of activism which will grow stronger by the day, as the government peddles lies about fairness we will expose their betrayal.”

Lib Dem Deputy Leader Simon Hughes also abstained from the vote admitting that the increase in fees may significantly discourage students from going to university.

Party President Tim Farron voted against the planned changes; another eight of his party colleagues did not vote.

John Denham MP, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary said, “Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems have lost all credibility with the country and cannot now claim to be a party of fairness.

“The government is tripling fees and cutting public funding for university teaching by 80%, leaving English students facing the highest public university fees in the industrialised world.” 

“Conservatives and Liberal Democrat MPs have let down their constituents, let down young people and let down higher education; they should hang their heads in shame.”

In all 21 Lib Dem and 6 Tory MP’s voted against the government; with former Liberal leaders, Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy, and shadow home secretary David Davis the most notable rebels.


Photograph from www.bbc.co.uk.

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