Monday 13 December 2010

Three views on the House of Lords' vote tomorrow on the tuition fees rise

The House of Lords where a vote will take place tomorrow on the tuition fees legislation
An open letter to the House of Lords on tuition fees by William Cullerne Bown

To All Members of the House of Lords
On Tuesday [December 14] you will have the opportunity to either approve or reject the statutory instrument raising the cap on tuition fees charged by universities to £9,000. How well has the government made its case?

Vince Cable began his speech to the House of Commons in the debate on Thursday by saying:
“The instrument represents a central part of a policy that is designed to maintain high-quality universities in the long term, that tackles the fiscal deficit and that provides a more progressive system of graduate contributions based on people's ability to pay.”
This statement accurately reflects the case made in recent weeks by the government for its policy on tuition fees. There are three central planks - that it will reduce the deficit, that it is progressive, and that it is necessary for the wellbeing of universities. But how well are these three claims supported by the evidence? [Read William Cullerne Bown's full letter here)
Excerpt from Lords voting on tuition fees by Lord Knight

By convention we do not reject executive orders.  As the unelected chamber we do not consider that we have the mandate to overturn the executive in that way.
That leaves the Lords with a delicate judgement on Tuesday, if the majority do not support the government’s position.  These changes are not implementing a manifesto commitment, indeed they are in direct opposition to a clear election pledge from one of the coalition partners.  They will increase the deficit not reduce it (see today’s Independent).  On that basis it may be possible to win the argument that this is sufficiently exceptional to overturn the convention. [Read the rest of Lord Knight's column here]

Excerpt from A close vote on tuition fees by Bagehot's Notebook at The Economist
I was taken aback to learn that serious figures in the coalition suspect the tuition fees legislation—in its current form—may never go through.
The reason? There are two houses of parliament, and the upper House of Lords is a place with strong ideas about doing the right thing and curbing what their lordships identify as government folly and excess. [Read more at Bagehot's Notebook]

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