UK Politicians Looking To Repeal Digital Economy Act

from the good-for-them dept

With the new coalition government taking over in the UK, some had wondered if the Digital Economy Act might be up for repeal. The Liberal Democrats, who had at one time supported the DEA, but then, after public pressure, switched their position, now have a chance to act. Apparently, over the weekend, they’ve decided to include some of the worst aspects of the DEA to include in the list of laws to repeal. I’m not familiar enough with UK political process to understand how this works with the new government. The previous party in power, Labour, were the major backers of the Digital Economy Bill, but they got the Conservatives to vote for it as well. It’s those Conservatives who won the most seats in the recent election, and then formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Could someone in the UK fill us in on the process for repealing legislation, especially if your party is only part of the government because you were dragged along by another party?

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “UK Politicians Looking To Repeal Digital Economy Act”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
29 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Not a Brit but Canadian so the process should be nearly identical. Basically, a repeal is done the same way as passing legislation, what will likely happen is someone will draft up a bill saying “DEA is amended and sections this, this and that are removed” and the new bill is voted on in the House of Commons. If it gets majority support from the MPs, it’s passed. It also has to be passed by the House of Lords but they’re almost entirely ceremonial.

ethorad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Plus I don’t think it being a coalition government will affect the process.

It might affect whether it becomes a main policy, and whether the government puts a whip on the vote (thereby forcing their MPs to vote a certain way) since both the Tories and the Lib Dems would presumably need to agree. I don’t think the Tories have shown much appetite to repeal the DEA so far, but fingers crossed they see sense and back the Lib Dems on this.

One thing I see is the minister who has the power to block websites the recording industry doesn’t like is Vince Cable. Here’s hoping he sticks to his political guns and remembers he’s a *Liberal* Democrat.

Malak (profile) says:

I know at least one new Conservative MP spoke against the bill as part of his election campaign, as not being an MP at the time of the vote it was easier to talk against it from a party that ostensibly supported it.

I suspect the Conservatives will find it an easy PR victory to agree with the Lib-Dems and toss out the most controversial bits.

If it happens it’s great news.

Simon Chamberlain (profile) says:

Agree with #1

All it needs is a simple majority of Commons (and Lords). The government introduces a Bill called something like the DEA (Amendment) Bill 2010, it gets voted on, and it’s law. Typically in Westminster democracies, party members are expected to vote along party lines (more so than in the US, from what I can tell). So if Cameron and Clegg (as leaders of Conservatives and Lib-Dems) instruct their MPs to vote in a certain way, they probably will.

It would seem a little bizarre for the Conservatives to immediately repeal a law that they’d just voted for, but I guess it’s not impossible (Rob from Oz at #3 has a good argument as to why).

Anonymous Coward says:

my understanding (though I can find no written evidence to support it) is that there is an 80 day repeal process for all the bills passed in ‘the washup’. This is because the many of the bills were passed without proper scrutiny.

However I do not advise getting too optimistic about the bill being dropped or significantly altered as the new Chancellor of the Exchequer (a position which traditionally caries more power than the Business Secretary) is now occupied by a man named George Osborne who just so happened to be on the same holiday as Peter Mandleson prior to his altering of the original Digital Economy Bill.

Idobek (profile) says:

No parliament may bind another

There is currently a Great Repeal Bill being drafted. The intention being that all the poorly drafted acts or parts of acts that were forced through by the Labour government of the last 13 years are simply revoked. Also included may be acts that are not performing their intended function and acts from before 1997 (where hard cases have resulted in bad laws).

The Tories may support the inclusion of the DEA on the basis that any debate and review of the bill was cut short and it therefore was not subjected to proper parliamentary scrutiny. As Labour did that a lot it hands the Tories and the Liberals a handy excuse to include acts for repeal that they previously voted for but the other part of the coalition wants repealed. It is Labour’s abuse of parliamentary process that will unite the coalition in this case.

We’re told that public opinion will be sought so hopefully Nick Clegg (I think he is the lead on this) will read this carefully:

Great Repeal Bill

Being an fervent EU supporter we can expect him to ignore the parts that repeal our membership. But, if he is a proper Liberal, as he claims, then the rest should appeal to him.

Yoda...but with added verbosity says:

Repealing the DEA was one of the commitments made by the Lib-Dems as part of their election manifesto. As with any coalition government, there is an element of negotiation on policy and if the Lib-Dems dig their heels in about this then the Conservatives are likely to back the amendment of the bill because they weren’t 100% behind it in the first place.

During the wash up process (during the final few days of a parliament, any bills still laid before the house which have a broad consensus of agreement are not debated in great detail and simply voted into law instead – democracy in action!) few MPs spoke for or against the bill (most who spoke were against it) and less than a 1/3 of MPs voted at all.

As this was before an imminent election, it is pretty safe to assume (IMHO) that there were MPs who voted for (and against – but far fewer) the DEA to either appease voters or campaign contributors and others who will have voted for or against the bill because they were simply ordered to do so (the ‘Nuremberg defense’, I think this is known as…)

Also, given that the expenses scandal led to the standing down of many politicians at the election, the new, incoming MPs may have to listen to their constituents in order to stay in power whereas their predecessors knew that they were on the way out and couldn’t give a monkey’s about the people but were quite interested in any potential future employment from the vested interests served by the introduction of the DEA. Allegedly.

Not to mention the fact that both the Lib-Dems and the Conservatives *HATE* Mandy so they would amend his bill just because he proposed it.

Personally, I think that the man’s a complete tit. He’s already had to resign twice because he’s been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, so the fact that he thought up this one-sided and draconian bill after being wined and dined by a recording industry mogul is more than enough reason to repeal this bill in it’s entirety and start again.

Or not bother at all and just let market forces do their thang.

mike allen (profile) says:

It has been anounced

That somehow the public will be allowed to say whivh bills are to be repealed maybe on a web site I have no more details at the moment
Mr Clegg, who is overseeing the government’s political reform plans, said he wanted to “transform our politics so the state has far less control over you, and you have far more control over the state”.

PROPOSED REFORMS
Partially elected House of Lords
Scrapping the ID card scheme and the national identity register
Libel to be reviewed to protect freedom of speech
Limits on the rights to peaceful protest to be removed
Scrapping the ContactPoint database of 11 million under-18s

Cameron hails ‘new start’ for MPs
Tories haven’t sold out, says May

This would include scrapping the ID card scheme and accompanying National Identity Register, all future biometric passports and the children’s Contact Point Database. It would also ensure CCTV was “properly regulated” in future and the storage of innocent people’s DNA restricted.

Mr Clegg said: “Britain was once the cradle of modern democracy. We are now, on some measures, the most centralised country in Europe, bar Malta.”

The deputy prime minister promised to give voters powers to “recall” corrupt MPs and for an elected House of Lords, based on a “proportional” voting system.

He promised to ask the public “which laws you think should go” as they “tear through the statute book”.

Mr Clegg added: “This government is going to persuade you to put your faith in politics once again.”

He said differences between the Lib Dems and Conservatives were “almost impossible to spot” when it came to wanting to decentralise power.

He added: “We don’t, unlike Labour, believe that change in our society must be forced from the centre. Unlike the previous Labour government, we’re not insecure about relinquishing control.” for further information

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8690882.stm

Dave Martinez (user link) says:

DEACT

What u need to understand is that this bill came about from corporations putting pressure (and possibly funding) on polititians. Namely the music and movie industries who it benefits.

These corporations lobbied the labour and conservative parties, whose members were pressurised by party leadership to support the bill. The liberal democrats also supported it initially, then did a u_turn under public pressure.

A coalition gov can repeal it just in the same way as a 1 party government and it seems that the lib dems might have asked for this as one of their conditions for propping up the tories.

For sections to be scrapped, parliament have to vote against them. Not an easy thing considering some members have possibly made assurances on it to big business, many will just follow their party leasership stance on it, and most just don’t understand it.

But members of parliament are elected to represent us, the people, so it is up to every single one of us to put pressure on our local mp’s to make sure our voice is heard and the act is repealed.

Anonymous Coward says:

repealing a law in a commonwealth style parliment basically required a new law to be passed that modifies or terminates each of the clauses of the previous legislation. it is effectively passing a new law to overwrite the old law. it would require a majority vote in the house of commons (and three readings, i think) and then it is sent off to the house of lords for a sober second thought. finally, the queen must sign off on it. basically, if they dont have a majority, they cannot get it done until one of the other two parties agrees with them, which isnt likely.

Dave Martinez (user link) says:

DEACT

What u need to understand is that this bill came about from corporations putting pressure (and possibly funding) on polititians. Namely the music and movie industries who it benefits.

These corporations lobbied the labour and conservative parties, whose members were pressurised by party leadership to support the bill. The liberal democrats also supported it initially, then did a u_turn under public pressure.

A coalition gov can repeal it just in the same way as a 1 party government and it seems that the lib dems might have asked for this as one of their conditions for propping up the tories.

For sections to be scrapped, parliament have to vote against them. Not an easy thing considering some members have possibly made assurances on it to big business, many will just follow their party leasership stance on it, and most just don’t understand it.

But members of parliament are elected to represent us, the people, so it is up to every single one of us to put pressure on our local mp’s to make sure our voice is heard and the act is repealed.

Headbhang says:

While I’m sure the Conservative’s politics would be more or less aligned to the DEA, I suspect they wouldn’t really oppose a repeal of it for two reasons:

1) Their coalition with the Lib-Dems, who likely would prefer to follow up their campaign promise.

2) Their desire to distance themselves from Labour and show some of the “change” the trumpeted. The DEA was a rather unpopular bill (even if it somehow managed to remain fairly low profile), so it would certainly be good PR for the Conservatives to repeal it.

Anonymous Coward says:

title of the post is misleading. the reality is that “some uk politicians” are looking to repeal the law, likely the same ones who opposed it when it passed before. sort of like saying “us citizens looking to repeal copyright”, when in reality a very small number of them have any interest at all.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

title of the post is misleading. the reality is that “some uk politicians” are looking to repeal the law, likely the same ones who opposed it when it passed before.

There is nothing inaccurate or misleading in the headline at all.

And considering that there was a change in power (you did read the post, right?) and the ones looking to repeal the law are now in power, whereas before, they were not, it’s both relevant and very, very accurate.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...