Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Top up fees
Charles Kennedy makes some very valid points on the Higher Education Bill. So much for the doubters about his effectiveness. As the Guardian reports, 'At prime ministers' questions today, the Lib Dem leader, Charles Kennedy, told Mr Blair that the legislation "will deter poorer students from becoming university graduates because of the debt involved, breaches trust with the public [and] does not tackle adequately the fundamental financing difficulties of the universities". Instead, extra funding should be raised through a higher top rate of income tax, he said.' Stressing that the Prime Minister had in fact made no significant concessions he said, "How can you justify legislation which will undoubtedly deter poorer students from becoming university graduates because of the debt involved, which breaches trust with the public given your earlier manifesto commitment and which in fact does not tackle adequately the fundamental financing difficulties of the universities themselves. University fees could be eliminated entirely if the top 1% of taxpayers paid more tax, surely that is a more fair approach." To be fair to the Prime Minister he at least acknowledged that the Liberal Democrats have an alternative policy even if he has not been paying attention to the mathematics involved.