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The Week in Westminster

Parliament has less than a fortnight in which to pass the higher education and research bill.

MPs voted to hold a general election on 8 June, leaving less than two weeks before parliament dissolves on 3 May for the bill to clear the final stage of the legislative process.

The remaining ten days are known as the "wash-up" period, in which government either allows bills to fall or prioritises certain pieces of legislation on which it is willing to accept compromises in order to get them through. If no compromise is reached, bills are either lost or have to be reintroduced by the new government after the election period. Since government has already invested considerable political capital in the higher education and research bill, it is expected to be willing to make significant concessions to pass the legislation, either by accepting peers’ opposition amendments or by introducing compromise amendments of its own. On areas where government refuses to make concessions, these are likely to meet with differences of opinion among the Lords over their roles in the legislative process: whether it is to put forward ideas for approval by MPs, or to seek to override MPs’ decisions if they believe them to be wrong. The balance between these competing views will dictate whether the bill clears its final stage before parliament is prorogued.

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