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Sunday, September 20, 2009

A clarification on tuition fees

Because there is understandably much interest in Wales on the Liberal Democrats' position on tuition fees it is worth making a few points:

1. The official policy of the party is to abolish tuition fees and that remains the position of Nick Clegg, he has said so at this Conference. The issue is one of timing and ensuring that we have a funded manifesto in place that adds up and is credible. It is impossible to say at this stage what will be in that manifesto because things are changing so quickly, however we intend to abolish tuition fees when we are able.

2. Irrespective of that Nick Clegg has given a guarantee that the manifesto will contain the best package for students of any of the political parties.

3. All of this applies to England only. Student finance is a devolved matter and irrespective of what is decided by Nick Clegg and his team, it is up to the Welsh Liberal Democrats to put forward our own solutions based on the money we have available.

Obviously, if England decides to abolish tuition fees it will make our job easier. We will get a Barnet consequential which will enable us to pay for their abolition here too and we will not be competing with English Educational Institutions for students on a different basis.

Naturally, it will be much more difficult to reinstate a budget line which Plaid Cymru have abolished in defiance of their own promises but we are looking at what we can do and will make our intentions clear in our 2011 Assembly manifesto. The Welsh Party also remains commited to abolishing tuition fees and improving student support.
Erm, clear as mud!

Would a Lib Dem led Government in London (following a general election) scrap tuition fees or not?

Would a Lib Dem led Government in Cardiff (following Welsh Assembly election) scrap tuition fees or not?

If it is a priority for you, then the money can be found, although you will have to make more savings in other areas. Be honest for once in your life!
I would suggest that it is crystal clear and that our position has far more integrity than that of Plaid Cymru who reneged on a cast iron guarantee. You can be sure that when you come to vote there will be unequivocal and costed options in front of you on which you can judge us.
Peter I would have far more respect for you if you were straight on this issue. why are you refering to plaid all the time when this is about where you are. personally i actually think the situation of both parties is the same? the fact is from what nick clegg has said is that if the lib dems are in government whatever their party position they will not be scrapping tuition fees. to say otherwise here peter is frankly misleading.

this post is less of a clarification and more of a excuse
Actually that is not what Clegg has said at all and that is the point. He has said that we will abolish tuition fees as soon as we are able. That is the position in Wales too. YOur problem is that you starting from the position you think Clegg has taken rather than what he has actually said. You also appear to be mistaking what he said to apply in Wales. It does not.

It is also nothing like Plaid. They went into government with a clear commitment not to introduce tuition fees and reneged on that. We will go into government with a manifesto commitment which we will publish in due course and we will stick to that because we will have costed it and thought it through.
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