Lamb’s ‘moral dilemma’ on university fees

Leading Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb has told of his 'moral dilemma' after admitting he was set to break a pre-election promise to oppose higher university tuition fees.

The North Norfolk MP and chief political adviser to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said he was 'positive' about the controversial government proposals for a near three-fold increase in fees to �9,000 per year.

And, despite having joined scores of Lib Dems in signing a pre-general election pledge to oppose any increase, he said: 'I certainly won't be in a position of voting against this.'

Mr Lamb admitted he regretted signing the pledge, but said the Lib Dems' position as junior partner in the coalition government with the Conservatives had led to the proposed introduction of a 'fairer system' than at present.

And he spelled out a host of reasons why he supported many aspects of the proposed new system, saying 'those with the broadest shoulders will bear the heaviest burden'.

In a column in the News' sister paper the Eastern Daily Press, he said: 'I signed the pledge in good faith. I now face a genuine moral dilemma.

'I regret signing that pledge. I will only support proposals which result in a fairer system than what we have at present.

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'We have, however, used our position in government to achieve the fairer alternative I also pledged to fight for.

'We have secured the abolition of up-front fees for part-timers and for the poorest 25pc of graduates - surely precisely those people who most need help - we have cut the cost of university.'