Cable gives contradictory views over raising student tuition fees
Saturday 04 December 2010
Vince Cable the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, disclosed last night that he would vote in favour of raising student tuition fees in next week's crucial Commons vote, only to backtrack in a later interview. Mr Cable, whose department has responsibility for universities, said: "Obviously I have a duty as a minister to vote for my own policy – and that is what will happen."
His stance – days after he suggested he could abstain – raises the prospect of an embarrassing three-way split among Liberal Democrat MPs. Thirteen, including the former leaders Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy, have said they would vote against increasing the fees to a maximum of £9,000 a year, while others are planning to abstain.
Liberal Democrat leaders had sought to reach a compromise under which all 57 of their MPs would maintain a united front by abstaining en masse. The coalition Government agreement gives the party's MPs the right to abstain on any move to raise tuition fees.
But that position would leave Mr Cable open to ridicule – not least because he has argued that it is thanks to his party's intervention that the proposed fee structure has been made more progressive.
He looks certain to be joined by Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and other senior Liberal Democrat ministers in supporting the increases in next Thursday's Commons division. Their votes will guarantee that the contentious measure is passed.
The Business Secretary told his local paper, the Richmond and Twickenham Times, that he had contemplated abstention as an "olive branch" to colleagues who were struggling with the issue. But he also said: "There is a dilemma. I'm very clear I regard the policy as right and as a member of the Cabinet I am collectively responsible for the policy. There is no doubt that is what I should do."
Liberal Democrats have been wrestling for weeks with the decision over how they should vote on tuition fees. A recent three-hour meeting of their MPs came to no conclusion and a planned conference in London today to discuss the subject was scrapped over fears that students would stage demonstrations.
* However, last night he moved back from his comments, when asked about them on student radio.
Challenged over his newspaper interview, the Business Secretary said: "I didn't announce anything. I think there might have been some slight misunderstanding.
"What I did try to explain was that the Liberal Democrats as a parliamentary party will be deciding as a group how they will vote on Thursday and I would imagine that in the next few days there will be clarity on that issue.
"I have my own views as an individual and as the Cabinet minister responsible, but the decision on how we vote in Parliament - it is true in our party, it's true in the Conservatives and it's true in the Labour Party - is decided as a group, collectively, and that is how we will make it."
The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
- 1 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world
£80 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: **Due to an increase in dema...
£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...
£7 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: We are a large and successful recrui...
£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...