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Burnley Lib Dem MP may abstain in tuition fees vote
LIBERAL Democrat MP Gordon Birtwistle has warned he could abstain when he votes over the proposed tuition fees hike if his party’s demands are not met.
The Burnley MP said the Lib Dems were calling for further financial assistance for students in deprived areas from the Treasury.
Mr Birtwistle, East Lancashire’s only Lib Dem MP, revealed he had not made a final decision about the vote on Thursday as he was trying to push through further measures to ensure prospective students from Burnley would be able to attend university.
The region’s other MPs have said they be voting in line with their respective political parties.
Mr Birtwistle said: “We are trying to make sure we look after the young people of Burnley.
"Our proposals won’t suit people in leafy suburbs of the Ribble Valley for example, but we have to make sure we protect people from low wage areas such as Burnley.
“People on £25,000 or less should have access to the help fund, for example. If these proposals are agreed then I will vote in favour.
“But if I can’t get the deal that I want for people in Burnley then I will abstain. I will not vote against the proposals.”
Pendle Tory MP Andrew Stephenson said: “I will be voting in favour of the tuition fees rise.
"Looking at the overall package I am in support of the measures.”
Blackburn MP Jack Straw is voting against the plans.
He said: “My profound objection is they are cutting the teaching grants to universities by 80 per cent.
“I think tuition fees would have gone up if we had been in power.
"They would probably be half or less than half of the current proposals.”
Haslingden and Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said he would be opposing the proposals.
He said: “An increase in tuition fees could have a huge impact on the area.”
Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry will be voting in favour of the proposals.
As deputy speaker of the House of Commons Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans will not be voting but will be announcing the decision after the vote has taken place around 6pm.
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