New government gives let out for Lib Dems over fees

13 May 2010

So, after all sorts of combinations of policy areas, not to mention acronym confusion (DES, DFEE, DFES, DCSF - do you remember them all?), we are back to plain old 'Department for Education'. That, at least, seems like a good start.

Despite all the rumours about the Lib Dem David Laws getting the job, Michael Gove is confirmed as Education Secretary. The rest of the ministerial team is still to be appointed.

And David Cameron has not re-merged Higher Education, FE and skills with schools. These remain in the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

David Willetts will be Minister of State for Universities and Science and, although not heading the overall department, will attend Cabinet.

He has the tough job of uniting the coalition government over probably its most divisive policy issue - reform of student fees.

It is so sensitive that the Con/Lib Dem pact specifically authorises Lib Dem MPs who cannot stomach any proposal to keep, or raise, fees to abstain.

 Mind you with half the Lib Dem MPs on the ministerial payroll, how many would be willing to rebel?

Those who pledged not to support the continuation of fees may be feeling uncomfortable now. Grass-roots Lib Dems are likely to be unhappy about this - probably the toughest compromise to swallow, along with Trident.

I doubt that the Browne review of university fudning - reporting in July/August - will let them off the hook.

User Comments

Andrew Routledge - 14 May 2010

FE Skill Forgotten Again?

They seem to have forgotten FE and Skills again as there is no minister yet. Vince Cable is aware of the cuts that are happening now in FE as the FE college in his own constituency is in dispute already. http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=459

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