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House of Lords to vote on tuition fees on Tuesday at 6pm

December 12, 2010

House of LordsPeers will have an opportunity to stop the tuition fees rise when the legislation narrowly voted through the House of conmen Commons goes to the House of Lords on Tuesday afternoon.

By Westminster convention, Lords can only vote against so-called ‘secondary legislation’ in very limited circumstances. The ‘primary legislation’, in this case, was the introduction of ‘top-up’ fees by the previous Labour government. But the matter is complicated now by the question of the coalition’s democratic legitimacy.

The Salisbury convention* obliges the Lords not to challenge any legislation that was promised in the most recent election manifesto of the governing party. To do so would be rightly seen as an unelected chamber undermining the choice of the electorate.

But the current government, which nobody elected, is composed of two parties, one of whom made no promise about tuition fee levels, and another who made an unambiguous claim that they would seek to phase out tuition fees and an unambiguous pledge that if you voted for them they would oppose any rise in tuition fees.

So, the current legislation which the conmen Commons agreed on Thursday is founded on a so-called ‘compromise’ as established in the coalition agreement penned after the election.

The legislative question now in play is whether the Lords have the right to challenge laws that are set out in a coalition agreement, which is clearly very different from the status of a manifesto of a successfully elected governing party. The coalition agreement clearly does not have a democratic mandate.

It is possible to write to a peer, and campaign for them to vote, even though they are unelected. You can do so here:

http://www.writetothem.com/about-lords

*Note: ‘The Salisbury Convention’ ensures that Government Bills can get through the Lords when the Government of the day has no majority in the Lords. In practice, it means that the Lords do not vote down a Government Bill mentioned in an election manifesto. See http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/parliamentacts/

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    December 13, 2010 11:27 AM

    Are there really no comments or is there a problem with the site? I find it hard to believe that no-one is posting anything…

  2. December 13, 2010 11:39 AM

    Go through the blog, Mark. We do get some comments, and hundreds follow via twitter, and respond and retweet us frequently, which serves the same function.

    Some invented email addresses cause comments to be treated as spam, and we do try to search these for legitimate comments and post them.

  3. Mark permalink
    December 13, 2010 3:56 PM

    Ah – Twitter may be the issue – we don’t all have time to follow every form of social networking for every issue. 😉 I had only been looking at the blog.

    Thanks.

  4. December 21, 2010 12:09 PM

    I think it’s a sad inditement on our society that kids will be expected to come out of education with a £27k handicap – and that’s without living expenses!!! It’s absolutely disgraceful and the outcome is that future parents of modest or low incomes will be telling their children to think long and hard before applying for University. I know I will.

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