Lloyd puts his promise ahead of party line

EASTBOURNE MP Stephen Lloyd has voted against the controversial plan to increase the cap on tuition fees.

But his Lib Dem Polegate colleague toed the party line despite previously hinting he may resign from his ministerial post over the matter.

Mr Lloyd spoke exclusively to the Herald ahead of the tuition fees vote which took place in Parliament as the Herald went to press yesterday (Thursday).

The policy, which has sparked student protests up and down the country, would see the cap in fees rise from £3,375 to £9,000 and has put the Lib Dems under pressure because the party promised to abolish tuition fees before forming the Coalition Government with the Tories.

Mr Lloyd told the Herald he would be voting against the plan.

He said, “It has been a very challenging time in Westminster over the last couple of weeks as the issue of tuition fees has hit the headlines.”

He explained he believed that Vince Cable, the Secretary of State, had come up with a ‘pretty fair and progressive proposal’ because students would not have to pay the fees upfront and the lowest 25 per cent of graduate earners would pay less than they do at the moment.

Mr Lloyd said he thought it was fair that no one would start repaying anything until they are earning more than £21,000 per year – up from the current £15,000 per year.

He said he also agreed with Vince Cable’s proposals that the rich should contribute more than those on middle and low incomes and that there should be more generous grants available to students from low income families.

Mr Lloyd said, “In other circumstances I would vote for the increase, as part of this wider policy which benefits the less well off.

“I signed a pledge, however, to vote against any increase in tuition fees and constituents across the town have asked me to do just that.

“Consequently, I will be voting against increasing the cap to £9,000 on Thursday.

“For me, the promises I have made to my constituents will always come first.”

But Polegate MP Norman Baker, who up until Wednesday was undecided about which way to vote and had hinted that he may resign from his post as transport minister, said he would vote in favour of the tuition fees hike.

The proposals have led to widespread anger among students across the country. On Wednesday (December 8) a solitary protester stood outside Stephen Lloyd’s Seaside Road office with placards. Amjad Miraz, a taxi driver and founder of the People’s Thinkers Forum, told the Herald he was protesting for his 10-year-old son.

He said, “By the time my son grows up the fees will be more than £15,000 – that is why I am here protesting today.”