Former Lancs MP denies signing fees pledge

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Lancaster’s former Conservative MP, Ben Wallace, has denied that he signed the NUS pledge last year to vote against a rise in tuition fees.

Ben Wallace holding a signed pledge. — Photo by Ben Robins

However, images of Wallace, now MP for Wyre and Preston North, holding the signed pledge have begun the circulate on the internet. The photos were taken by SCAN’s former Head of Photography Ben Robins. SCAN covered Wallace signing the pledge last November.

Wallace now claims that he signed an amended pledge, stating that he would not vote for an increase “under the current system”. He told the BBC’s Michael Crick: “Look at the detail. It is amended and says: ‘under current system’. The Browne report changes all that. Lancaster Uni confirm I did not sign the NUS pledge, but an amended system.

“I didn’t like the old system because 15,000 was too low a threshold; poor student support was rubbish; and universities didn’t provide enough information on what students get for their cash. Browne answers all that. I want more done to encourage science, but it will do for now.”

However in an open letter to Wallace, Lancaster University Students’ Union President Robbie Pickles, and former President Michael Payne, argue that the vote on Thursday is still under the current system, and therefore his amended pledge still stands.

They wrote: “The vote, due to take place in the Commons this Thursday is a vote on the current tuition fee cap only and not a vote on a new system for funding higher education, that will come later, along with considerations of the government proposals following the Browne review.

“The 2,000 of your constituents and I who petitioned you with personal letters and the 300 who witnessed you signing the personal pledge look forward to you holding dear to your promise.”

Parliament will vote on whether or not to lift the cap on tuition fees to £9,000 a year on Thursday.