20 January 2011

Yesterday’s debate in the Commons on the educational maintenance allowance (EMA) in England ended with two votes.

The first vote (division 176) was on the Labour motion that inter alia “recognises the valuable role that the educational maintenance allowance (EMA) has played in supporting young people from less well-off backgrounds to participate and succeed in education…and calls on the government to rethink its decision on EMA”. The government has decided to abolish the EMA and Labour’s motion was in effect opposing abolition. On the first vote George Eustice, Steven Gilbert, Sheryll Murray, Sarah Newton, and Dan Rogerson voted against the Labour motion. Andrew George is not recorded as voting for or against. The Labour motion was defeated.

The second vote (division 177) was on a Tory Libdem government amendment to Labour’s motion that acknowledged that the government “has already begun to replace the educational maintenance allowance system with more targeted support”. This motion in effect agreed with the abolition and replacement of the EMA. On the second vote all six MPs from Cornwall voted for the government amendment which was passed.

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs from Cornwall all voted for the amendment and thus for the Tory Libdem government’s policy of abolishing the national EMA in England and replacing it. The EMA’s replacement, the enhanced learner support fund, has not yet been announced in detail. We do not know how much money this replacement scheme will have or how many students will be able to claim under it or how student eligibility will be assessed or much they will be able to claim.

Read the debate: Hansard 19 January 2011 column 860. The votes are at column 953 onwards.

Read too Dan Rogerson’s thoughtful contribution to the debate, starting at column 903.

EDIT 20 January 2011: Andrew George missed the first vote because he was doing an interview. See here.