The rushing through of the Digital Economy Bill through its last stages and 3rd Reading last night in the Commons was a classic example of the arrogance this Labour government has shown to many key issues. I have been shocked and appalled by the way they carry out their business – without a blush as they push through bad legislation – because they can. Rubbing right up against the dissolution of Parliament – the Government should have stop pushing this flawed Bill through – and let it come back for proper scrutiny and passage in the new Parliament – whoever is the government.
It is clear from the massive amount of unhappiness arriving in MPs’ mailboxes that there is genuine and widespread concern amongst people out there that the Digital Economy Bill has got a number of key things wrong. As I said in the debate last night – is it not more important to get it right than get it through?
Sadly, the Government whips were out – and the Bill passed despite the Liberal Democrats and a few Labour rebels voting against 3rd Reading. It now continues again to the Lords for any 11th hour miracle that our lordships can muster. I hope that our LibDem Lords will try and block the Bill altogether.
There are key issues that need more scrutiny and need better solutions: how to deal with file sharing and illegal down-loading (making sure originators get their due but not by draconian means like web blocking) and how to make sure that ‘orphan works’ , for example photographs without a known photographer, don’t become a free source of material to those who want to use the work but don’t want to bother to find the originator and pay the copyright fees.
Without going into detail overdrive – these are massive issues that the Bill in its current form really doesn’t resolve and which could do massive harm. Given more time – there are solutions out there.
This was a real demonstration of so much that is wrong with our democratic processes – because whilst the Government can always get its business through in the end because it has more votes – to do so without proper scrutiny and debate means that bad legislation gets through. And bad legislation in Parliament – means that everyone affected by that particular issue will suffer in their walk of life.
We really are at last chance saloon today in the Lords. There is no more that can be done in the Commons. What an indictment.