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Private school fee payments ruled out after outcry

PUBLISHED: 18:02 26 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:17 12 August 2010

PERTH, SCOTLAND - MAY 15: Conservative party leader David Cameron gives his key note speech at  the Scottish Conservative spring conference on May 15, 2009 in Perth, Scotland. The Tory leader raised initiatives to bolster cross border relations and also stated that his top priority was to ensure the Scottish National Party (SNP) does not succeed in breaking up Britain. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

PERTH, SCOTLAND - MAY 15: Conservative party leader David Cameron gives his key note speech at the Scottish Conservative spring conference on May 15, 2009 in Perth, Scotland. The Tory leader raised initiatives to bolster cross border relations and also stated that his top priority was to ensure the Scottish National Party (SNP) does not succeed in breaking up Britain. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

2009 Getty Images

A CONTROVERSIAL idea for a council to pay private school pupils fees to help their parents through the recession has been ruled out. The Times broke the story two weeks ago of Conservative Plaistow and Sundridge councillor Peter Morgan s suggestion to

A CONTROVERSIAL idea for a council to pay private school pupils' fees to help their parents through the recession has been ruled out.

The Times broke the story two weeks ago of Conservative Plaistow and Sundridge councillor Peter Morgan's suggestion to use Government money to pay for independent schooling.

The idea caused such outcry after it was picked up in the regional and national press that Conservative Party Leader David Cameron contacted Bromley council to investigate.

The furore has led to an alleged schism within the Bromley Conservatives and to attacks from Bromley Labour and Liberal Democrat members.

Councillor Morgan appeared on BBC Radio 5 last Tuesday morning outlining his idea but by that evening, council leader Stephen Carr had rebuffed the proposals.

Speaking about the loggerheaded Tories, Labour leader John Getgood said: "The developments show that the Tory majority on Bromley council are deeply split.

"Bromley Tories are always trying to give the impression that they have changed from the old Thatcherite party but we have seen that their traditional priorities of bashing ordinary people and helping the wealthy are only just being hidden below the surface."

Each school receives funding for pupils in the form of a Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) from the government which is an amount per pupil calculated by a number of factors including deprivation indices and unemployment figures for the borough.

Mr Morgan believes there is a possibility that independent pupils will be forced to leave their schools and enter mainstream education, burdening local authority resources, and so wanted Bromley council to investigate if the DSG could be used to pay private fees.

Leader of the opposition, Liberal Democrat David McBride , said the incident had caused embarrassment for the Tories.

Speaking last Tuesday, he said: "This morning the issue was being considered and two hours later the leader of the council stated that it would not happen. Peter Morgan's question was asked weeks ago so the embarrassment this episode has caused the Tories must have quickened that decision forcing them to dismiss the idea.

"The Tory leaders must have very red faces tonight as they have been hugely embarrassed by a very senior member of their administration."

But leader of Bromley council Stephen Carr said: "I'm not interested in whether it has caused embarrassment for David Cameron. Bromley Conservatives are very independent. I only care about serving the people of Bromley and doing what is right. This was never being seriously considered.

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