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    Fees vote win despite rebellion

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    ODN

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    The Government has won a crucial Commons vote on raising the upper level of tuition fees to £9,000 after a debate which exposed deep divisions in the coalition.


    MPs voted 323 votes to 302, a majority of 21 in favour of the motion despite vocal opposition from some Liberal Democrats and a handful of Tory MPs.


    Business Secretary Vince Cable said he was "proud" of the Government's package, which will allow English universities to treble fees from 2012.


    The vote followed a fractious five-hour debate and took place as protesters opposed to the rise in fees clashed with police in the streets outside Parliament.


    Thousands of demonstrators were involved in ugly clashes which saw injuries on both side.


    One police officer was taken to hospital with a serious neck injury after being knocked unconscious.


    A second officer needed medical attention for leg injuries after he was pulled from his horse in Parliament Square.


    As scuffles continued to break out, police began using the controversial tactic of "kettling" protesters, due to violence.


    A Scotland Yard statement said earlier: "Officers will use Tannoys to talk to those within the containment to explain what is happening.


    "Those who are clearly not involved in any violence and want to join the agreed rally point at Victoria Embankment will be allowed to do so.


    "Officers will also pay special attention to anyone within the containment who is young or vulnerable."


    Students marched through central London in a last-ditch protest against the coalition's plans to allow English universities to charge £6,000 a year and up to £9,000 in "exceptional circumstances".


    The current fee cap is £3,290 for the academic year 2010/11.


    Earlier in the House of Commons shadow business secretary John Denham said fees were being trebled "simply to reduce the 80 per cent cut in the funding of university teaching - not to raise extra money".


    He told MPs: "Most graduates will be asked not to pay something towards their education, but to pay the entire cost of their university education. Universities will have to charge £7,000 to £8,000 simply to replace the money they lose and many universities will lose 90 per cent of their public funding."


    Even before the vote the Liberal Democrats had suffered casualties with two ministerial aides quitting.


    Mike Crockart and Jenny Willott resigned because of their views on the Government's plan.