Brits: last chance to demand debate on Digital Economy Bill -- act now!

We're in the final days for the British Digital Economy Bill. This Thursday, the House of Commons will decide whether to subject the bill to line-by-line debate (which will probably kill it or at least delay it until after the election), or whether to pass it without any real scrutiny or debate. Given that the DEB will touch every part of British life, from education to civic engagement to health to law enforcement to justice, it's insane to think that Parliament might pass it without even examining what it says.

This may be our last chance to demand a full debate on the bill. 38 Degrees and the Open Rights Group are asking you to write to Harriet Harman, Leader of the House, to ask her to support a full debate on the bill. It will take you two minutes, and it may be your last chance to ask Parliament to consider the public interest (rather than just the record companies' demands) before passing one of the most important laws of the young century.


Harriet Harman MP, Leader of the House of Commons, will - on Thursday afternoon - have to explain the Government's plans for the Digital Economy Bill.

The Bill has suffered from huge manipulation by lobbyists, including insertion of entire new clauses at the behest of music lobbyists the BPI, and accusations that Lords amended the Bill without declaring their interests.

The Bill still includes highly controversial measures to disconnect families from the internet after allegations of copyright infringement. There are as yet unknown measures to block websites, with the potential for censorship. Such measures should not be rushed through during 'wash up'.

Harriet Harman, as Leader of the Commons has the power to recommend the Parliamentary timetable. That's why we are asking for her to guarantee that the Bill receive full, line by line scrutiny. Nothing less will do,

Harriet - Debate The Digital Economy Bill

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  1. Somebody tell 38degrees that they’ve spelt Harriet’s surname wrong in the To: field. I hope they’ve got the email address correct.

    Also, I urge everyone to take ten minutes to write their own text for the letter, rather than use the provided spam.

  2. Despite the ‘to’ field on form at the 38 Degrees site reading “Harriet Haman”, the email address is correct. The name could still do with correcting, though.

  3. Last chance? This is the second reading.

    There is still the committee stage (where every line is scrutinised), consideration stage, third reading and passage to go.

    1. I think the worry is that the normal procedure you describe is usually bypassed in the last few days of Parliament, before it is dissolved and the General Election is called.
      In these circumstances, a shortened procedure is applied where laws that have passed Lords and Commons at least once are simply “whitewashed” by government alone, without parliamentary intervention, and enacted into law without any further reading.

      Usually the motivation for this procedure is to streamline essential bills that can’t really wait for the new parliament; the presumption being that MPs won’t dare pass controversial legislation right before standing for re-election, legislation that could be abolished in just a few months. Or at least this is what I understood, I’m no scholar on the intricacies of Westminster procedures.

      Unfortunately, this time many disgraced MPs won’t stand for re-election, and we all expect the current majority to change significantly, so there is no penalty for passing monstrosities as the DEB. The Tories are not opposing the bill, so if it gets into law, it will probably stand unchallenged for years.

    2. The general election is coming too soon, so there will not be time for the committee and consideration stages. Hence, the government is proposing to skip them, as is traditional for bills which have no real opposition at the end of a session.

      This decision will be made on Thursday. This really is the last chance to stop it.

  4. Done. My letter took a feminist slant, playing on her position as Minister for Women and Equality: the people hardest affected by a child’s misbehaviour on the net would be stay-at-home mothers.

  5. “…it’s insane to think that Parliament might pass it without even examining what it says.”

    But that does seem to be the new legislative standard practice. As is “streamlining” in favor of public debate. I’m glad we can all agree that it’s insane.

  6. Or alternatively:

    Relax

    I was really concerned about this, and wrote to my MP, but now I feel like I’m suffering outrage fatigue.

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