Norwich Lib Dem MP Simon Wright to vote against a tuition fees rise
Under-fire Norwich MP Simon Wright has finally revealed that he is to vote against the coalition government's plans to raise tuition fees.
Pressure has been mounting on the Norwich South MP to honour a pledge he made to the National Union of Students (NUS) before the general election to oppose any increase in fees after the measure was put forward by the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition.
The Lib Dem MP had consistently said he supported a graduate tax instead of tuition fees rises, but his unwillingness to come out immediately against the government's fees hike invoked the wrath of students, and sparked a warning from the NUS that they would use proposed new powers to recall MPs to put up a challenger against him.
Despite welcoming many elements of the proposals, Mr Wright said today that because he made opposition to tuition fees a key issue in his election campaign, he had decided to vote against.
The move comes amid student protests across the country and growing tensions within the Lib Dem ranks over the issue, as well as a suggestion by business secretary Vince Cable, the architect of the plans, that he might abstain in any vote.
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Mr Wright said that since the publication of the Browne report recommending a fees increase he had met constituents and ministers to gauge their views on the proposals. And while he was pleased that the government had agreed to limit the fees universities can charge up to �9,000 a year, he still intended to vote against.
Mr Wright said: 'In electing me as their member of parliament, my constituents gave me a clear personal mandate to oppose a rise in tuition fees.
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'There are significant elements in the government's proposals that I welcome, abolishing up-front fees for part-time students, a fairer repayment system that leaves lower paid graduates better off than under the existing system, and generous support for young people from less privileged backgrounds to enter higher education. These proposals are fairer than the existing system. I also feel that those who recognise the importance of encouraging students from poorer backgrounds to go to university must make it clear that there is nothing in this package which will prevent anyone who wishes to go to university from doing so.
'However, an increase in tuition fees is part of that package. Over the last few weeks, I have been discussing the proposals with many constituents, including students, parents, and those who work in higher education.
'The message that I've had back from many of those who supported me because of my opposition to fees is clear. Many of my constituents wish me to use the mandate that they have given me to oppose the proposal to increase the basic cap on fees to �6,000.
'Because I made this a key issue in my election campaign, I have decided that I should vote against these proposals.'