Conservatives accused of 'running scared' after avoiding votes on pay cap and tuition fees

Written by Kevin Schofield on 14 September 2017 in News

The votes on tuition fees and the public sector pay cap were passed unanimously

House of Commons - Image credit: Dods

The Conservatives have been accused of "running scared" of Parliament after dodging two Commons votes they were set to lose.

In a highly unusual move, no Tories forced a division following Labour-led debates on the public sector pay cap and tuition fees.

That followed reports that the DUP were planning to vote with Labour on both issues, robbing the Conservatives of their working majority.

It meant motions calling for NHS workers to receive a pay rise of more than one per cent, and the scrapping of plans to increase fees to £9,250, were passed unanimously.

However, because they were non-binding, the UK Government is free to ignore them.

Speaking at the end of the tuition fees debate, Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: "We have a constitutional crisis because this government is running scared and not allowing votes in this House."

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: "It’s extremely rare for the Government not to vote down an opposition motion and the only explanation is it avoided a vote because it knew it would lose it.

"The Labour party is no longer just the official opposition, we are a government in waiting, ready to properly invest in our NHS and its staff and transform Britain for the many not the few."

It understood that the Conservatives have decided not to force votes on any opposition debates as a way of avoiding embarrassing Commons defeats.

The latest row comes after the UK Government was accused of a "power grab" after forcing through changes which will guarantee the Tories a majority on key committees.

Ministers have also been criticised over so-called 'Henry VIII powers contained in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which critics say will allow them to change laws without seeking MPs' approval.

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