I’m told there is a strong chance of the coalition losing a vote this afternoon in the House of Lords. Not on tuition fees, which will be debated in the evening.
Instead a cross-bench peer, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, has proposed an amendment to stop the coalition scrapping the post of chief coroner in its Public Bodies Bill (otherwise known as the bonfire of the quangos). Labour have a three-line whip on its peers to back Finlay, who also has the sympathy of many other cross-benchers.
The post of chief coroner for England and Wales was only set up in legislation last year (Coroners and Justice Act) in an attempt to tackle delays, improve service and create accountability. We will find out at about 4pm if Finlay has succeeded.
As for tuition fees, Labour have decided to propose two amendments – to be debated this evening – which would have the effect of delaying the rise in fees and forcing the coalition to engage in more consultation. It is of course feasible that some Lib Dem peers may be inspired by last Thursday’s Commons rebellion and vote against the coalition. (The government has already been defeated six times since May despite the arithmetic advantage of the coalition, with a nominal majority of 40 in the upper chamber).
Yet the Tories and Lib Dems in the Lords have shown unity in recent months and are working increasingly as a single block. Expectations remain that the amendments will not be passed.