Norwich South Lib Dem MP to oppose student fees hike

The Liberal Democrat MP for Norwich South, Simon Wright, has said he will vote against the coalition government's plans to raise university tuition fees.

Mr Wright said he had campaigned on the issue and after talking to constituents had decided to stand by the party's election pledge to oppose fee rises.

BBC East's political editor Deborah McGurran said his narrow win in Norwich South was due to the student vote.

There are about 29,000 students in his constituency.

They attend the City College and the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Within hours of the government's proposals being published, UEA students delivered more than 1,000 postcards of protest to Mr Wright's Norwich office.

The university's council house is currently being occupied by students.

They welcomed Mr Wright's decision but said they would continue with their protest in the run up to the House of Commons vote on the controversial plans on 9 December.

Under pressure

The vote will be a test for the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, which has faced mass protests over its plan to nearly double fees to £6,000 and allow charges of up to £9,000 for some courses at universities in England.

Image caption Simon Wright MP was congratulated on his election earlier this year by fellow Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb

The Lib Dems have come under heavy pressure after pledging before the election not to support any fee rise.

Mr Wright had previously said he would "not be rushed into a decision".

He said at the beginning of the month: "It is not a question of sitting on the fence. This is an important decision and it's important we get it right."

In his latest interview he told the BBC he agreed with much of the government's policy because it would increase help with student's living costs, loans and grants for young people from not well off families and deliver a fairer system for student loan repayments.

But Mr Wright said he could not vote for the overall package.

"I have always campaigned for the abolition of tuition fees and I've been very up front about my views about that.

"It played a key role in my election campaign and having spoken to my constituents many of them have sent me the clear message that they wanted me to use the mandate they have given me to oppose the government on its proposal to increase the fee."

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