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Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Bare faced cheek

An e-mail arrives from the otherwise very pleasant Tory AM, Laura Ann Jones. She has tabled a statement of opinion (the Assembly's version of the House of Commons' early day motion). The statement reads that "This Assembly regrets that Labour introduced tuition fees, thereby breaking a promise to the electorate; regrets that student debt has more than doubled since 1997; calls for functions over student funding to be devolved to the Assembly to allow the Assembly to rule out top-up fees in Wales; calls on the Welsh Assembly Government to scrap all tuition fees for higher education students; calls on the Labour Government in Westminster to abandon plans for top-up fees." Laura is in her early twenties and therefore will not remember the devastation wrought on the education system by her party between 1979 and 1997. Nevertheless, the tabled text is audacious if not downright cheeky. I have now tabled an amendment and invited AMs to sign both it and the main motion. The amendment reads: "And in doing so notes that high levels of student debt has its origins in Conservative Government measures between 1979 and 1997 to reduce the value of the grant, to take away the right of students to state benefits and to introduce student loans. The Assembly notes further that Conservative MPs have voted twice in favour of top-up fees in Committee in Westminster."

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