Tuition-fees protesters target Royal couple

PROTESTERS attacked the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall's car last night as anger over the vote to increase tuition fees led to violent scenes across London.

The Royal couple were unharmed after their vehicle, which was travelling to the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium, was attacked by up to 20 demonstrators with fists, boots and bottles, chanting "Off with their heads!" and "Tory scum"

David Cameron said those who had provoked trouble would feel the full force of the law. The Prime Minister said: "It is shocking and regrettable that the car carrying the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall was caught up and attacked."

The Rolls-Royce was left with a badly-cracked passenger-side rear window and was spattered with paint thrown in the attack in Regent Street.

Earlier yesterday the coalition survived its biggest rebellion as it narrowly won a vote to allow universities to raise their fees to 9,000. Six Tory MPs – including four from Yorkshire – and 21 Liberal Democrats voted against the Government's plan which won with a majority of 21. Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland was a key figure in the Lib Dem rebellion, while Haltemprice and Howden's David Davis, Brigg and Goole's Andrew Percy, Shipley's Philip Davies and Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney were among the Tory rebels. Mr McCartney said: "In my opinion trebling fees will saddle students with huge levels of debts and deter many from poorer backgrounds from applying to university."

Mr Percy said he had wrestled with his conscience but said the Government had not yet won the argument for the increase and called for the vote on the matter to be put off.

Outside the House of Commons violence had raged on the streets culminating in the attack on Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall's car. However she laughed off the incident as she left the London Palladium last night saying: "I'm fine thanks – first time for everything."

Twenty one Lib Dem MPs voted against the rise in the cap, including party president Tim Farron and former leaders Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy, as Mr Clegg saw his party split. Two Ministerial aides – Jenny Willott and Mike Crockart – resigned to vote against the measures; 27 of the party's MPs backed the move and another eight were absent or abstained as the coalition's majority was cut from 84 to 21.

Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students said students had "won the arguments and the battle for public opinion."

Shadow Business Secretary John Denham said Lib Dems should "hang their head in shame" and claimed the party had lost "all credibility" after ditching their pre-election pledge.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: "Our higher education reforms have struck a fair balance between ensuring we advance social mobility and properly fund our world-class universities."

Ministers insist the measures – which will see the threshold at which students start repaying their debts raised from 15,000 to 21,000 – are both fair and progressive.

Universities who want to raise fees above 6,000 will have to prove they are introducing measures to attract students from poorer backgrounds.

Leeds University's vice chancellor Prof Michael Arthur welcomed the result of the vote. He said: "The decision provides us with a sustainable academic and financial future, although we remain concerned about the possibility of a funding shortfall before the higher fees come into effect."

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