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Could the government lose the tuition fees vote in the Lords on Tuesday?

Could the government lose the tuition fees vote in the Lords on Tuesday evening? There are beginning to be murmmurings that suggest whips are beginning to get nervous.

In the Sunday Telegraph today, Melissa Kite reports that it is looking “very tight”.

At Politics Home, Paul Waugh says “Labour whips in the Lords are weighing up whether this provides the chance for a famous Last Stand against the fees rise.”

The Mirror reports that, “Independent cross-bench peers would have to join in to defeat the Bill”.

There will be no debate, only a vote. But there are some matters of Parliamentary protocol that will need sorting out before Tuesday. The vote will be on a statutory instrument rather than primary legislation, and that distinction means peers make a different calculation before deciding whether they are prepared to vote against the Commons. Waugh and the Economist and (Lord) Jim Knight are good on the detail.

What is clear is that the Lords contains several very well informed peers who have taken a close interest in the governments plans. That much was clear from the debate on the topic in the Lords last month. It seems likely that the detail of the governments plans may be in for close scrutiny over the next 48 hours.

One unexploded bomb for the government could be the question of whether ministers misled the House of Commons over how progressive the proposals are. In the governments original response to Browne, Vince Cable cited an analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies to buttress his case that the reforms would be good for poor students.

But that analysis was based on the repayment threshold of £21,000 being set in 2012 prices. But in its report last week, the IFS seems to have accepted that Browne set the threshold in 2016 prices, which was the position of Cables department all along. Did Cables team know that the IFS analysis was based on the wrong information? If so, how could they let their man repeat the IFS conclusions to the House of Commons?

Students are planning more demonstrations on Monday, and the Lords is scheduled to get to the issue at around 6pm on Tuesday.