Peter Riddell takes an end of year look at the Westminster scene.

The Christmas break may be in sight. But the programme of cuts goes on. Local councils in England were given confirmation this week that their funding will be slashed. The government also announced plans to give new powers to local residents. They'll be able to force referendums on local issues and even take over libraries and post offices threatened with closure. The politicians call it 'localism.' And it's a subject here for the Conservative, Bob Blackman, and Labour's Heidi Alexander.

The House of Lords has followed the Commons by voting in favour of tripling university tuition fees in England. But the issue remains divisive. Two peers with long experience of the world of higher education take sides here. They are Labour's Lady Blackstone, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich, and the Conservative, Lady Perry, the former Vice-Chancellor of South Bank Polytechnic.

Away from the stories that grab big headlines, the government has published a hitherto secret guide to how we are governed. It's called the Cabinet Manual. Here, Labour's Graham Allen, who chairs the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee of MPs, weighs its significance.

Finally, two bloggers, Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome and Anthony Wells of UK Polling Report, look ahead to next year and find big challenges facing the three main parties.

Editor: Peter Mulligan.

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30 minutes

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Sat 18 Dec 2010 11:00

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