Tuition fees row explained

The proposal to increase tuition fees in England tore at the hearts of the Liberal Democrats and provided a substantial test for the coalition government.  A blog post on the Liberal Vision website reports on the voting figures in the House of Commons, and makes interesting reading.

MPs regional breakdown Aye votes No votes Abstentions Total
England 311 209 8 528
Northern Ireland 0 12 6 18
Scotland 6 51 2 59
Wales 8 32 0 40
Total 325 304 16 645

The government’s majority was reduced from its nominal 76 to only 21 because of the opposition from MPs in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, whose constituents do not pay the tuition fees that were the subject of the vote.  The coalition agreement contains the commitment to “establish a commission to consider the ‘West Lothian question’” but of course this has not yet been done.  As a result, we still have the mismatch between the people who can vote and the people who are affected by the voting.

If the government had gone about things in the proper order, they might have spared themselves some of the pain.

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