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Today's protest about the conditions of student finance

There was a protest today where students came as part of a "day of action" about student finance. The first point I would make is that although this occupation was better behaved than the previous occupation it still disrupted the business of my office. The business of my office involves solving problems for constituents. Hence it is not fair to my constituents.

There are limits to protest. Violent protests are not acceptable. The occupation was generally well behaved, but there was an attempt to push past me into my office. (I was holding the door shut) That actually is the use of violence even though I have told the police that I do not wish to take this further.

The issue they were raising about the certainty of the arrangement of finance is a very important principle. It is important that when students commit to a financial arrangement that this is stuck to by government. It is governed by a number of statutory instruments. One if SI 2012/1309 The Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2012. This was laid before parliament on 21st May 2012 and could have been blocked by a motion in parliament. Hence it has parliamentary accountability. Furthermore it is also subject to judicial review (and there are no proposals to change this particular aspect of judicial review). Hence the arrangements in Article 1 Protocol 1 could be used to quash changes which affect the contractual elements of the arrangement.

Where they are right is that the money that graduates have to pay is more important than the amount of money that universities charge the system. About 3/4 of graduates' payments are dependent entirely on their income and are not affected by the amount of the fees that the universities charge the scheme.

This is to be fair the most important element of this area of public policy where there have been threats to change the arrangements but a number of politicians have argued against this (including myself).

Hence the basic principle behind the demonstration was flawed as well as its execution although I was not as stressed about this group as I was about the previous group who did do some specific harm to two of my constituents.

Factually, however, on the issue of the terms and conditions they are wrong. Hence it does not matter who actually owns the debt.

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