10 Dec 2010

Higher university fees approved by British parliament

5:12 pm on 10 December 2010

Despite a rebellion by members of the coalition government in Britain, parliament has approved plans to increase fees paid by university students to £9000 a year.

The lower house of parliament on Thursday approved the plan by a majority of 21.

Protesters earlier clashed with police outside parliament during the debate.

The BBC reports the rise, which is up to three times the current fee, is the biggest test for the coalition government since it came to power in May this year.

Inside the House of Commons, Business Secretary Vince Cable told MPs the fee plans were fair and would maintain the quality of universities.

Opening a noisy debate in the Commons, Mr Cable said the plan would maintain high quality universities in the long-term, tackle the fiscal deficit and provides a more progressive system of graduate contributions based on people's ability to pay.

Liberal Democrat MPs were under intense pressure - after their election pledge to vote against any fee increase.

The coalition has a working majority of 84 when everyone is present in the Commons.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard says three police officers have been hurt in clashes between police and students outside parliament.

The ambulance service says 19 people have been treated for injuries, with six taken to hospital.

Protests turn violent

The student demonstration later turned violent. As darkness fell, the Supreme Court building near parliament was attacked and a traditional Christmas tree in central London set on fire.

A car carrying Prince Charles and his wife Camilla was attacked. A window was cracked and threw paint thrown on the vehicle. However, the Royal couple were unhurt.

Windows in London's main shopping district were smashed.