Conservative cabinet aide Lee Scott pledges to abstain in tuition fees vote

Lee Scott signing the pledge to oppose a fee increase (photo: Wes Streeting)

Lee Scott signing the pledge to oppose a fee increase (photo: Wes Streeting)

Jewish MP Lee Scott has joined the list of possible government rebels in tomorrows vote on plans to raise university fees.

The Conservative MP for Ilford North has said he will abstain at the vote, despite being a senior cabinet aide in the coalition government.

In an email to the JC, he said: "I am not voting for a fees increase.”

He added: “I am working on proposals to help students and will have further details in the new year.”

Before the general election Mr Scott was one of four incumbent Conservatives to sign a pledge to block higher fees.

In signing up to the National Union of Students' (NUS) campaign he promised “to vote against any increase in fees in the next Parliament.”

Mr Scott, an MP since 2005, is the Parliamentary Private Secretary for Transport Minister Philip Hammond.

He increased his majority by 3.7 per cent at the last election, despite a campaign allegedly marred by threats for his support of Israel.

If the government wins the vote, universities will have the opportunity to raise the costs of higher education to £9,000 a year, although the money would be paid after studies were completed.

Other possible Conservative rebels include Bob Blackman, voted in as MP for Harrow East in 2005 after signing the fees pledge. Liberal Democrats expected to abstain or vote against the proposals include the party’s deputy leader Simon Hughes and former party leaders Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy.

Wes Streeting, the former NUS president who is now a Labour councillor in Mr Scott’s constituency, called for the MP to honour his “clear promise” by voting no, regardless of the consequence for his cabinet position.

He said: “With the vote looking so close, abstaining is as good as voting in favour."

Mr Streeting said that even if it meant resigning, it was unacceptable “to sit on the fence.”

“Resigning from a very minor and unpaid position in the government is a small price to pay."

Last updated: 12:56pm, December 17 2010