Jeremy Corbyn apologises to young people for Labour's introduction of tuition fees

In an interview, he apologised on behalf of his party

Doug Bolton
Thursday 16 July 2015 14:43
Jeremy Corbyn speaks at the Durham Miners' Gala
Jeremy Corbyn speaks at the Durham Miners' Gala

Jeremy Corbyn has apologised on behalf of the Labour party for its introduction of tuition fees in 1998.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Labour leadership nominee Corbyn said he wanted to apologise to the "last generation of students" for the introduction of tuition fees and the replacement of student grants with loans, a policy that he said he opposed at the time.

Tuition fees were first introduced in the UK under Tony Blair's Labour government in 1998. Corbyn voted against this policy, and later voted against them being raised.

He said in the interview that the Conservative party "stands against the young", and mentioned his ambitions to create a Labour party that listens to the needs of everyone.

Earlier this week on 13 July, Corbyn, the long-time MP for Islington North, submitted an early day motion which condemned the government's decision to turn maintenance grants for students from poorer backgrounds into repayable loans, a policy unveiled in the most recent budget.

Early day motions are short motions that are intended to draw attention to specific subject of interest, and are rarely debated in parliament. Corbyn's motion calls the recent Conservative policy a "direct attack on the poorest people accessing higher education in England", and urges the government to reverse their plans and introduce a system where "students can access more generous grants in order to cover the rising costs of living."

It has been supported by MPs from the Labour party including Diane Abbott, but also members from other parties, such as the SNP and DUP.

The latest budget was widely criticised for its effect on the nation's young people. In it, George Osborne revealed plans to let universities raise tuition fees in line with the rate of inflation from 2017/18.

As well as this, 18-21 year olds will lose their right to claim housing benefit, except in exceptional circumstances.

Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday morning, David Cameron said replacing grants with loans was "the right approach".

As well as Jeremy Corbyn, Labour big guns Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper are standing to become the next party leader. The elections will take place in August.

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