Dress rehearsal

Yesterday in Parliament we had an Opposition Day debate, on two topics chosen by Labour: school sports funding, and tuition fees. Here’s the motion we submitted on the latter:

“That this House believes that the Government should publish a White Paper on higher education in England, setting out the full detail of its plans for higher education funding and student finance before asking Parliament to vote on whether to raise the fee cap; is concerned that major questions about how the Government’s market in higher education is intended to work remain unanswered; is concerned that recent graduates will be responsible for repaying loans for up to 30 years because the teaching grant is being cut by 80 per cent.; and urges the Higher Education Minister to bring forward publication of the White Paper.”

So, to be clear – it wasn’t the actual vote on tuition fees, which we’re expecting on December 20th, just a dress rehearsal if you like. And if we had won the vote – we lost, 244 to 307 – it would have had only political, not legislative consequences.

Here’s the roll call of Lib Dem MPs who abstained:  Annette Brooke; Ming Campbell; Nick Clegg; Mike Crockart; Tim Farron; Mike Hancock; Julian Huppert; Charles Kennedy; John Leech; Greg Mulholland; John Pugh; Ian Swales; Mark Williams; Roger Williams; Simon Wright.

Before you get too excited about Nick Clegg’s inclusion in that list, he’s currently in Kazakhstan, discovering his inner Borat.

And while I’m here, interesting blog post by Laurie Penny on the student occupations. She says that even those who were involved in the Labour leadership campaign – i.e. they’re Labour activists – are “skeptical about the ability of mainstream politics to deliver the change they want”.

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