UK House Of Commons On Digital Economy Bill: We'll Approve Now, Debate Later?

from the wash-up dept

Despite tens of thousands of people writing their MPs, and multiple MPs asking for approval of the Digital Economy Bill to be delayed, it looks like the Leader of the House of Commons, Harriet Harman, has decided that the bill will be rushed through via a “wash up,” no matter what. Glyn Moody points us to an image showing that a lot of MPs simply decided not to even show up for the discussion, which is a bit of a disgrace.

Even worse, though, is that Harman is pretending that the bill is not being rushed through, even though the bill will go through the wash up process. Her argument seems quite disingenuous — suggesting that even though the bill won’t get to go through the normal process of debate, there will still be opportunities to make changes after the bill has been approved — though it appears that some politicians seem to think that’s mere window dressing, and the later debate/amendments will never actually happen. The whole thing seems quite bizarre. Basically, it looks like the plan is to approve the bill and debate it later. There still will be a brief debate and vote tomorrow evening which, in theory, could kill the bill, but most reports appear to believe it’s a foregone conclusion that the current bill will be approved — and then (maybe, possibly, but probably not really) the controversial bits will be debated later.

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Comments on “UK House Of Commons On Digital Economy Bill: We'll Approve Now, Debate Later?”

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Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Elections May 6?

not that the Digital Economy Bill got much media attention

I thought that too – I smell a bit of a rat here – a conflict of interest maybe – seems especially strange when the media did kick up a huge fuss about MP’s expenses (surely less important) and about corporate lobbying generally – (surely the DEB would have an excellent example.

Tim Dickinson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Elections May 6?

That’s not entirely true though.

There were full page ads both for and against the DEB in most broadsheets today. And the BBC had an episode of Panorama dedicated to the topic (still on iPlayer @ )

However, whereas in the US politics looks to have become quite polarised, at least to outsiders like myself, with both sides of the debate defending their views strongly. Sometimes both sides with misinformation, but there certainly does look to be interest in politics.

Here in the UK the general public is so apathetic towards politics and politicians that most don’t think they can make a difference and that MPs are on the take. The decline in interest has happened over decades, but the recent scandals about MPs’ expenses and then laws for cash has disillusioned people so far most just no longer care at all. With an election coming the parties stay pretty close in the polls because no-one is really worth voting for and people are trying to decide on the lesser of two evils.

Watching the DEB getting “discussed” in Commons today was unbelievably disappointing. This is a massively important bill and it is being rushed through in the wash up procedure, but even then only about 35 MPs bothered to turn up to say anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Elections May 6?

To me that sounds like a pretty good summary of politics in the US as well. The vote is between two people with equally bad positions. It’s sad in a lot of ways, especially because the chance of breaking the Democrats/Republicans hold of power in our nation is highly unlikely. Though I still do care, it’s hard to when you know anyone who might actually have your best interests at heart doesn’t stand a chance in any election.

GuyFawkes says:

Good for the rest of the world. The only ppl that will lose from this will be british ppl. Of couse when i say “good for the rest of the world” im beeing sarcastic. it´s a tragedy, but it´s a tragedy to uk. we, from outside, we still have reseanable copyright/internet laws. i think that can lead to a slow development on uk creative industrie. when you have to wait to get something (wait to a law to protect you and them start your business) you´re really late. so i´m praying to EMI get bankrupted and in the future other content monopolys too. sure that wont happend in mass but ok, EMI is fine. what they dont understand is that music will be on the geekys hands (lastfm, spotify, grooveshark, all from geeks). when artists stop RECORDING with the record industries and start to record and PROMOTE with spotify, lastfm etc they´re dead. they´re digging their own funeral. sorry 4 bad english, have to type fast

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

to the best of my knowledge the lords are Part of parliament, actually.

as is the house of commons.

not sure about that though. i know that technically the monarch (or govener) is here… i say technically because we also have a speaker for the house, the governer generally never seems to do anything other than officially start and end things, and i have no idea if they ever even bother showing up anymore. but ‘here’ is not the UK…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Same tactic taken with the healthcare billl

This sounds like the exact same process used to get the healthcare reform bill through. It is a dangerous precedent that people are setting by allowing our normal process to be circumvented by the governments.

This comparison shows a lack of understanding of how the British Parliament is organized, how this bill is being passed, and how the health care reform bill was passed.

First of all, while the US and UK legislatures each have two houses, the House of Lords is by no means analogous to the Senate: the Lords are not elected, and the House of Lords has only very limited powers (their failure to pass a law can only delay it, not stop it as in the Senate).

Here, a law which was passed by the (non-democratically-elected) House of Lords is getting rushed through the house of commons with no debate, which is by no means the normal way of things for anything so controversial.

As for the healthcare reform bill, it’s actually two bills. The main one was passed by the senate by the usual process and then by the house, after debate in both as usual. The second, which amended the first, was passed through the reconciliation process that has been used by Democrats and Republicans alike for the past 30 years to circumvent filibusters and pass various controversial legislation (e.g. COBRA, George W. Bush’s tax cuts, etc.). It was passed first by the house, then modified slightly before being passed by the senate, then passed by the house again.

The Democrats briefly considered a very likely unconstitutional “deem and pass” method of avoiding having two separate votes on the two separate bills, but ultimately decided this was not a good idea after all and passed the two laws legitimately.

(On a related note, the filibuster too is different in British Parliament, in that people are required to actually speak rather than just threaten to and the speech must be relevant to the topic at hand (no reading the phone book). As such, it is used much more rarely.)

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Same tactic taken with the healthcare billl

This sounds like the exact same process used to get the healthcare reform bill through. It is a dangerous precedent that people are setting by allowing our normal process to be circumvented by the governments.

Big difference here . The US government used procedures to frustrate corporate lobbying and pass a bill in the interests of the population.

The UK government is using procedures to pass a bill on behalf of corporate lobbyists and to frustrate the public’s opposition.

Plus the in US case the bill got plenty of debate – in the UK case the bill will go through under the radar with almost no debate or publicity at all.

The two are not similar – they are almost complete opposites!

Hephaestus (profile) says:

This is a good this ...

This will destroy the internet businesses in england. ISPs wont host anything that is “potentially” infringing, fair use will just stop, new products wont see the light of day in britain, p2p software will get better and more anonymous. As we have seen in other nations, three months after the passage of these sort of laws piracy rates are higher, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, are great examples. The reason it is a good thing is it will cost pretty much every corporation with an internet presence money. In the end the cost will be higher than the money the media industries are loosing by several times … IMHO … and it wont save them peoples habits have changed

Another let down Internet user and member of the B says:

Did we expect anything different from our government?

Just to say that this is not surprising at all! Another fine example of British ‘democracy’ lol…

Oh well, at least if they do catch anyone downloading copyrighted materials they cannot prove that it was you beyond reasonable doubt.

IP addresses do not identify individuals and individuals cannot be expected to be wireless or network security experts. This is one law that is complete bo11ocks!

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Did we expect anything different from our government?

“IP addresses do not identify individuals and individuals cannot be expected to be wireless or network security experts. This is one law that is complete bo11ocks!”

Secondary liability… you are the owner of record and are liable for what other people do on your WiFi.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Did we expect anything different from our government?

That’s what ACTA is trying to bring to the world. People dont seem to get it, when it happened here, and our corporate overlords bought the DMCA, we were mocked by the rest of the world. See how long it took for the corruption to spread to Europe?

Were all in this together, if you cant see that now.. well I guess its already to late. There has never been an exchange of power BACK to the people… without a civil war.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Did we expect anything different from our government?

That’s what they are telling you! You don’t have to beleive everything they say! lol

They cannot force the public to be computer network security experts. Most users do not know the first thing about security, nevermind what an IP address is. Is the government going to pay to train every single internet user in the country?

Secondary liability? So If someone murders someone, are their parents responsible for the murder? The murder would not have happened if the parents never gave birth.

md1500 (profile) says:

I watched Parliament debate the Digital Economy Bill last night with a mixture of horror and incredulity. Given the importance of the Bill and the calls for debate, I couldn’t believe how empty the House of Commons was.

It now looks likely that the Digital Economy Bill will pass. Not that it matters. It is doomed to failure. Sweden introduced IPRED – Piracy INCREASED. France introduced HADOPI – Piracy INCREASED. People have even got around the great firewall of China. The Internet is impossible to censor.

I found it hilarous when MPs said one letter would be enough to stop filesharers… The 20,000 letters sent to MPs clearly had little effect on stopping the Digital Economy Bill. I plan to treat any letter I receive from my ISP as a result of the Bill with the same consideration my MP gave mine: Zero.

Also, I just love how during the course of the debate, the cost of piracy rose from £200million to £400million. I’ve heard of inflation but that’s ridiculous. Various MPs kept quoting these outlandish figures and nobody questioned them. Surely anyone with half a brain could see the ridiculousness of these statements? Is it really feasible that despite being in a global recession, the UK collectively has £400 million lying around in spare cash, gathering dust, which we’d be more than happy to spend on Simon Cowell’s latest dross if only those dratted P2P services didn’t exist?

mike allen (profile) says:

i watched this debate

It was on Tv I counted less than a dozen MPs in the house for such a important debate. This Bill is written by the enterment industry not the government and will be pushed through. ~It will kill a lot of the internet from the UK internet radio will be non existant. even streaming from spotify or other such sites will cause a letter to be sent.this is so bad that in my opinion we in the uk would be better moving to china!!!!! it would be freeer.
Our MPs should be ashamed of themselves the main media should also but then they have paywalls coming in soi guess they will keep quite. The BBC well they cant do a lot but better watch out as their Iplayer uses P2P technology and anything that does that will be suspect even linux distros. The UK will become a internet desert with this bill.

The eejit (profile) says:

In the Commons, there were 15 MPs in for the DEB debate.

To pass a law int he UK, both Houses need to pass it, AND HM the Queen must sign it into law on either her birthday OR New Years Day.

Now I know that my (soon to be ex-)MP wasn’t in the Commons at the time. So I will not vote for him. If I’d had more time, I’d stand as an Indy for the MP seat, then I can scounge better than those time-wasters ont he dole. :p

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

With the electon writ dropped there's no Commons to pass anything

Unless I’m seriously mistaken once a writ of election is dropped there isn’t a single MP, including cabinet members who actually has a job right now. At least until May 6.

So just how you rush this through a Commons that, for the moment, has zero members and pass it to the Lords for rubber stampimg is puzzling.

Even in the apparently unlikely event of Labour actually winning the vote there’s still things like a Throne Speech, budget and all that dreck to get through once the Commons returns.

In the likely event the Tories win, even with a minority, things will take longer to come back together again.

Could be interesting though.



Thomas rand (profile) says:

repsonse from my MP

Dear Thomas,

Thank you for your reply and for sending me the links to those articles. I thought it might help if I explained that these contain a couple of factual errors. Firstly, the computing article claims that amendment 120a gets ISPs to police websites and allows for people to be cut off from the internet. Neither of these are true. The clause that is now in the Bill sets up a system whereby a court can block a website if it believes it is facilitating a significant amount of illegal downloading and doing won’t impact on legitimate users of the internet or on freedom of expression. This to me is a reasonable approach to take against such sites.

The clauses that deal with illegal file sharing and potential temporary suspension from the internet are clauses 10-17. However, these clauses cannot come into being for at least 12 months and only after Parliament has debated whether they are necessary. Again, this is a reasonable and proportionate approach to a problem that costs the economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

You may not be convinced but hopefully I have explained my thinking on these important issues.

Thanks again for getting in touch.

Best wishes,

aint_no_stopping_us_now says:

Re: repsonse from my MP

Again, this is a reasonable and proportionate approach to a problem that costs the economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year

Hundreds of millions?? economy?? What about the total cost of ?850 billion we, the taxpayers, have paid to support reckless trading in banks.

This government needs a reality check and sort out some real issues

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