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  MiP Files: The prime minister's crucial week
Updated 27 January 2004, 15.01

Our Man in Parliament unlocks some of the secrets of the most powerful place in Britain - parliament.

Here he tells us why Tony Blair has such a worried look on his face this week, as he faces losing a major vote about university fees, just before he hears what the Hutton Report has to say about him.

This week is set to beat all others as one of the most difficult the prime minister has ever faced, with two hugely important events happening together.

Firstly he will have to wait as a nail-biting vote on his government's plans for university tuition fees takes place in the Commons on Tuesday evening. A lot of MPs don't like the idea and the vote is going to be very close.

If he loses it will be a huge blow to his leadership, because it would mean he cannot get support for his plans, even among his own party.

Chopping block

Then on Wednesday the report into the death of Dr David Kelly, the former weapons inspector who apparently committed suicide - is going to be made public.

The prime minister could be heavily criticised by the author of the report Lord Hutton.

Again it could mean his head on the chopping block if it puts him in too bad a light.

University fees

Mr Blair's plans on university fees affect how much students in the future - possibly you - will pay if they want to continue studying after leaving school.

You will be charged up to 3,000 a year to go to university - although you'd only start paying it back once you had finished and had a job paying you at least 15,000 a year. Many students are unhappy about it and is certainly causing anger among Mr Blair's own party members.

Although there are 161 more Labour MPs than all other MPs added together, Mr Blair could still lose if more than 81 vote against.

It's anybody's guess as to what will happen at the vote and even if Mr Blair does win, it's unlikely he will sleep very comfortably while he awaits the Hutton Report.

Hutton report

This report is Lord Hutton's verdict on lots of evidence he heard about why Dr Kelly died - this included lots of stuff about whether the government exaggerated information from spies about how dangerous former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was.

The government was accused of doing this to help persuade MPs to back the invasion of Iraq last year. But Mr Blair denies that he, or any of his ministers, did anything wrong.

Even if he is not condemned outright, the whole business is going to be very messy. So rest assured we'll be watching!

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