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?


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 5:00am

    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.

     

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    ethorad (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 5:10am

    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.

     

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    Rob from oz, May 19th, 2010 @ 5:25am

    Given the way the bill was forced through in the "wash up", I'd says the Tories only agreed because it was easy. I think (hope?) they'll find it easy to change their minds.

     

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    Malak (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 5:34am

    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.

     

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    Simon Chamberlain, May 19th, 2010 @ 5:36am

    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).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 5:39am

    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.

     

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  7.  
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    Idobek (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 5:45am

    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.

     

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    Yoda...but with added verbosity, May 19th, 2010 @ 5:52am

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 5:57am

    Because it's a coalition government laws(or repeals) will need both Conservative and Liberal support to get a majority, assuming that Labour will oppose it. For this reason the Conservatives may agree to support the Liberals on this issue for an agreemnt for support on something they care more about. Hopefully.

     

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  10.  
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    Thomas Bodetti (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 6:09am

    repealing it sounds good

    you know the idea that this type of law could have made it into the books is just evil. You just have to wonder about why people are so comatose as to allow this in the first place, but hey I guess there is always the evening sitcom

     

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  11.  
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    mike allen (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 6:11am

    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

     

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  12.  
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    mike allen (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 6:21am

    full text

     

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  13.  
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    Dave Martinez, May 19th, 2010 @ 6:52am

    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.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 7:06am

    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.

     

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  15.  
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    Dave Martinez, May 19th, 2010 @ 7:12am

    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.

     

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  16.  
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    mike allen (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 7:12am

    Re:

    It would not be announced unless the coalition had agreed it that is the point now forget party lines it is policy.

     

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  17.  
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    Richard (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 7:35am

    How it got through in the first place

    Apparently the Conservatives backed the DEA during the wash up because the bill contained a lot of (other) things they supported and they had to back or oppose the whole thing. They did say at the time that they would look at the disconnection bit again after the election if they got in.

     

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  18.  
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    Paul-G, May 19th, 2010 @ 8:08am

    NOW is the time

    Come on Brits, NOW is the time to lobby your MP with a sensible argument for repeal. Guilty until proven innocent? Since when was that the basis of British justice.

    Fortunately my MP is a LIbDem so am about to email him. Who knows? It might do some good.

     

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  19.  
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    Headbhang, May 19th, 2010 @ 11:14am

    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.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 11:48am

    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.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 2:45pm

    Re:

    Well, I'm sure that would be a problem, considering your typical attention span ends at the post's title.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re:

    hi mike, cant just admit that sometimes you are wrong?

     

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  23.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 3:54pm

    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.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 7:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Can you? Which part of this Wikipedia article is inaccurate?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boson

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 8:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Hi TAM, can't you just admit that your paranoid conspiracy theories are wrong?

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 1:01am

    no, it is still inaccurate, guys who couldn't get passed what they wanted, now in majority power will reverse the decisions made by those who opposed them when they had majority power, which is why nothing will ever get done

     

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  28.  
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    Idobek (profile), May 20th, 2010 @ 6:10am

    Re:

    Are you seriously suggesting this shouldn't be allowed? That once a law has been passed it should not be possible to repeal it? Or maybe you believe the next government should not be able to repeal it? What then the point of changing governments? Why not simply do away with those pesky elections all together?

     

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  29.  
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    Dave, May 20th, 2010 @ 12:13pm

    Mandy

    What, exactly, is that mountain of intellect, Mandelson, actually doing, now the election is over? He was always a non-elected "official", so, presumably he is now ousted? I damn well hope so - can't stand the man. He started the DEB business rolling and the lead up to THAT stinks, in my opinion.

     

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