Tuition Fees

Part of Opposition Day — [7th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 9:09 pm on 30th November 2010.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Culture and Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution) 9:09 pm, 30th November 2010

I will not give way as I am running out of time.

I want to be as generous as possible to all the other political parties represented in this House, as I always take what they have to offer in debates very seriously. We know the Tories' position. The Minister for Universities and Science is described as "Two Brains" and it is Tory thinking that runs through those two brains. Of course tuition fees is a Tory idea. We know that; that is the sort of thing they do-they hurt the poor and they make sure students will have to pay for their courses-but Labour, for goodness sake, introduced tuition fees and voted to increase them exponentially, although, thankfully, they were defeated in that. Labour also initiated the Browne review, but now in opposition they let out a howl of protest about what the Tories are going to do, yet we have no idea what they would plan to do.

The Liberals are the comedy act in this turn. Breaking this pledge might be the biggest suicide gesture in modern political history. We have seen the leaflet that was handed out in Scotland opposing tuition fees just at the point when they are going to introduce them, but we should not mock Mr Leech because he is the good guy now. We have to get the Liberals with us to ensure this measure can be beaten. It is up to them; they can ensure that this is seen off. It is up to the Liberals to make sure they do that.

The Scottish Government will not be cajoled or bullied into following this course of action. We are going to have to consider our response, given what this Government are going to do. We have ruled nothing out other than these tuition fees. We must defend our universities by making sure they are protected and they remain world class, but we will oppose this. We make no apologies for ensuring that Scottish universities are maintained and protected, and that we have the best universities in the world.