Lib Dem MP quits government over tuition fees

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Lib Dem MP Michael Crockart has resigned his position as Parliamentary Secretary to Michael Moore as a result of the coalition plans for an increase in tuition fees in England.

The MP for Edinburgh west explained that in his opinion the coalition policy will cause a rise to student debt that will seriously impact student choices.

The announcement of the resignation will be damaging to the Tory/Lib Dem coalition, Mr Crockart said that despite everything they have done he cannot support them.  It is also acutely embarrassing for the Lib Dem party and for Scottish Secretary Michael Moore.

The Tory/Lib Dem coalition plan for tuition fees is facing stiff opposition from students across the UK.  Student leaders are angry at the Lib Dem’s in particular and have accused them of doing a ‘U’ turn on their pre-election pledge.

The SNP at Westminster also argue against the proposals saying they will have a very serious impact on Scottish students.  At today’s First Ministers Questions Alex Salmond urged Lib Dem MPs to vote against the proposal.

Support in Scotland for the Lib Dems has dropped following their decision to join with the Tories at Westminster and Scottish party leader Tavish Scott’s calls for a ‘Calman Plus’ package of extra powers for Scotland was recently snubbed by Lib Dem colleague Michael Moore.

Meanwhile

Scottish students studying north of the border will not pay tuition fees no matter what happens elsewhere in the UK, the SNP’s Education Secretary Michael Russell vowed today.

Mr Russell made the promise before attending a joint NUS Scotland and University and College Union (UCU) Scotland rally outside the Scottish Parliament in protest at the Westminster Government’s decision to treble tuition fees for those studying in England.

It follows the announcement that a Scottish Government Green Paper on the future of higher education funding will be published next Thursday (December 16).

In recent months, MSPs have twice voted in support of the Scottish Government’s opposition to tuition fees and against the need for an independent review.

At the rally Mr Russell said:

“The long term challenges and pressures on university funding are clear, made all the worse by the £1.3 billion cuts to the Scottish budget.

“The changes likely to be agreed at Westminster today will shift the primary burden for higher education from the state to the student.

“We have spent the best part of a year at the centre of a debate we initiated aimed at finding a uniquely Scottish solution to how higher education will be paid for in the future. Throughout we have made it clear we are willing to consider all sensible ideas, no matter how radical or innovative, except for one – tuition fees.

“When we publish the Green Paper next week it will include a range of options but they will all be guided by one defining principle – the state will remain the primary provider of education in Scotland.”