Privately-educated Labour MPs criticised for voting to scrap independent school tax breaks

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Privately-educated Labour MPs have been accused of trying to “destabilise the sector that has provided the opportunities afforded to them” for voting to end tax breaks for independent schools.

Labour was defeated in a House of Commons vote on Wednesday on whether a new parliamentary committee should be formed to consider Labour’s policy of imposing VAT on private school fees and scrapping business rates relief.

Private schools have warned that the policy would be loss-making because of the number of pupils who would be unable to afford a 20 per cent hike in fees, increasing the burden on the state sector.

However the motion was backed by a group of Labour MPs who have benefited from a private education.

They included Annelise Dodds, the Labour Party chairman, who attended Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen, John Healey, shadow defence secretary, who went to the independent St Peter’s School in York, Louise Haigh, shadow transport secretary, who attended the independent Sheffield High School, and Harriet Harman, former Leader of the Opposition, whose alma mater is St Paul’s Girls’ in West London.

Other privately-educated Labour MPs who voted in favour included Barry Gardiner who attended Haileybury in Hertfordshire, and Dame Meg Hillier, who went to Portsmouth High School, an independent girls school.

Policy ‘would result in private school closures’

Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, told the House of Commons that 14 per cent of Labour MPs were privately educated, twice the national average, and said it would be interesting to see whether those MPs would vote to “destabilise the sector that has provided the opportunities afforded to them”.

She warned that Labour’s policy would result in private school closures and a reduction in bursaries that would increase pressure on the state-funded sector.

Labour has claimed its policy would raise £1.7 billion a year that could be invested in hiring 6,500 new teachers to ease pressure on existing teachers and help solve the recruitment crisis.