Blog: Tuition Fees Debate

Full coverage of the House of Commons tuition fees debate, and the student demonstrations across the country, on Thursday 9th December.

PHOTO: NUS

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1st VOTE: Raising fees up to maximum of £9,000: For 323, Against 302, Majority 21
2nd VOTE: Raising basic fees to £6,000: For 323, Against 302, Majority 21

7.30pm Thanks for joining us today – we’ll keep you updated of any further events via Facebook and Twitter; meanwhile, concluding the blog, a look back at the first NUS/UCU demonstration on 10.11.10, courtesy of LUST.

NUS Response – Students Disappointed and Angered by Broken Promises

Following the vote in Parliament this evening, Aaron Porter, NUS President 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 only because MPs have broken their promises. We are incredibly disappointed and angry with the politicians who have let us down so badly. They have voted for a policy they know is unfair, unnecessary and wrong.

“But this is not the end, and our protests and our work have sparked a new wave of activism which will grow stronger by the day. As they come for the education maintenance allowance, as they seek to raise interest rates on our loans and as they peddle lies about fairness we will expose their betrayal. I am incredibly proud of the student movement today and we stand ready to fight the next stage of this campaign together. Our future is at stake.”

7.15pm Riot police have entered the Treasury building and are preventing protesters from gaining access to a broken window.

7pm Update Protesters trying to gain access to the Treasury building.

The Times: “The police are sending in reinforcements to clean up the demo outside Parliament.”

6.10pm Footage from GUST, on STV News, of the demonstration in George Square, Glasgow.

BBC: Approximately 150 students staging sit-in at The National Gallery in London.

Sky News: Conservative MP Lee Scott has resigned as parliamentary aide to Philip Hammond; Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Simon Hughes will abstain from the vote.

5.24pm Commons debate now concluded – voting has begun.

5.23pm The first vote is on the issue of fees of up to £9,000 in exceptional circumstances; the second allows for raising the basic fee level to £6,000.

5.16pm David Willetts, Universities and Science Minister, closes the debate in the Commons.

5.14pm Vote due shortly; police now confirm total of seven arrests at protest.

Channel 4 News: Lib Dem MP Jenny Willott has resigned as a parliamentary aide to Chris Huhne.

4.54pm Large fire started by protesters in Parliament Square.

4.45pm Update Vote now 30 minutes away; activity in Parliament Square now more peaceful, The Guardian reporting that kettling may have been slightly relaxed; BBC says police in riot gear are in attendance inside the Commons.

The Guardian: NUS President Aaron Porter believes the fee increase can still be stopped.

BBC: 6 people treated by London Ambulance Service for injuries.

The Guardian: “An email from a concerned parent about Scotland Yard’s offer to let the young or vulnerable out of the kettle: My daughter is kettled. I sent her info that police are allowing nonviolent protesters to leave. She says ‘easier said than done’.

Sky News: Lib Dem MP Mike Crockart resigns as parliamentary aide to Michael Moore MP.

4.13pm Police confirm three arrests made, two for assault.

4pm LSJSN reporting estimate of 25,000 protesters now kettled into Parliament Square.

3.53pm Police confirm containment operation – aka kettling – now in place outside Parliament.

Sky News 20 year-old female student and two police officers injured during protests.

3.48pm Photo: protesters attempt to break through barriers near Parliament (approx 2.35pm) from Sky News via The Times (paywall protected).

3.39pm Widespread disorder on corner of Parliament Square, missiles being thrown by protesters and police raising batons & attempting to push crowd back.

Sky News: Approximately twenty Lib Dem MPs will vote against the rise in tuition fees.

Tweet NUS: “Remember the UCU/NUS rally and vigil is on Victoria Embankment. Start heading there now. Speakers start soon.” (3.20pm)

3.20pm Update Commons vote due in two hours time; protesters in Parliament Square attempting to break through barriers, scuffles with police; NUS/UCU rally begins shortly.

2.56pm Photo of the London demo from The Yorker.

2.41pm The debate in the Commons continues, with Edward Leigh (Con) and Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem) criticising the proposals.

2.35pm Minor scuffles, with barriers being broken down, but demonstration outside Parliament remains largely peaceful.

2.25pm UCL’s live map of police presence at London demo.

Sky News: Former Met Police officer Graham Wettone says protest outside Parliament is “a very tense situation”.

2.12pm LSJSN Live Blog on London demo.

Tweet Alice Salfield: “Greg Mulholland [speaking in Parliament Square] says we must look at tuition fees within education as a whole and rushing through this vote does not do this.” (1.58pm)

1.58pm Are you at one of the protests around the country today? Get in touch with us!

Insight (The Student Room): Report into how an increase in tuition fees will influence higher education choices of future students.

1.34pm John Denman concludes; Speaker imposes six-minute limit on backbenches speeches.

1.31pm From Revolts.co.uk, a handy guide (PDF) to tonight’s potential Lib Dem rebellion from Philip Cowley & Mark Stuart of the University of Nottingham.

Channel 4 News: The Factcheck team on tuition fees.

1pm Denham notes that both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have left the chamber.

12.59pm Vince Cable concludes speech; John Denham, Shadow Business Secretary, begins his response.

The Times: “Dr Cable’s main desire seems to be to present this as a fundamentally progressive measure while presenting Labour’s graduate tax as unworkable.”

12.55pm Just the one vote this evening – all three proposed amendments were rejected prior to the debate.

Sky News: Jon Craig quoting Lib Dem source suggesting that over half the parliamentary party will vote in favour of the fees threshold & limit increase.

The Parties’ Positions: The view from the coalition, and the opposition:

“Setting the record straight on tuition fees” (Conservative)

“The Government’s latest fees plans are not good enough” (Labour)

12.25pm Vince Cable, Business Secretary, opens the debate.

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