Threat of revolt in Lords on college fees

THE "HAUGHTY manner" of Baroness Blackstone was being blamed last night for contributing to the risk of an embarrassing government defeat in the Lords which could throw into chaos its plan to introduce pounds 1,000- a-year student fees.

Some senior peers were blaming the "arrogance" of the education minister in the Lords, for the Government's difficulties. They are upset that Lady Blackstone has failed to provide assurances about the level of the fees that will be imposed on students by the universities, and the practicality of introducing means testing in time for the autumn term.

"There is some very bad blood about Baroness Blackstone in the Lords," said one leading House of Lords source. "She has always been bad in the Lords. She has this arrogant, haughty manner. She always looks as though she is looking down her nose at you. She doesn't seem to like it in the Lords. She gives you the impression she would prefer talking to Fellows of All Souls."

The Liberal Democrat peers and the Conservatives led by Baroness Blatch, the former minister, are threatening to join forces to defeat the Government on Monday in the Lords on the Teaching and Higher Education Bill, which puts the plans for student fees into effect.

Both opposition parties have complained that the Government is proposing means- tested fees of pounds 1,000 a year, but the legislation fails to spell out the details, because the universities are covered by private law. A motion has been tabled to force the Government to retable the two main clauses at the core of the legislation, with a fuller explanation. That could cause a delay, putting the timetable into fresh doubt. A Liberal Democrat source said: "Unless there is a substantial concession, the Government will be defeated."

A Tory spokesman said: "We are planning to vote with the Liberal Democrats, which means the Government will be defeated. The Government's main clauses on fees would have to be tabled again and debated again."

Baroness Blatch will be leading Tory opposition to the Bill with four key amendments, including one insisting on the existing maintenance grant for students being continued alongside flat-rate fees.

A number of left-wing Labour MPs are also threatening to rebel when the Bill goes to the House of Commons to complete its passage through Parliament. One leading leftwing MP said the rebellion could be as big as the vote against the Government's cuts in one-parent benefits.

The universities are also unhappy with the Government's handling of the introduction of the fees. A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "Strathclyde University told me all their means testing goes out to an agency. We don't think they will be able to finish it in time. They won't know what to charge students."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory