My latest Guardian column, "Does the BPI want MPs to debate the digital economy bill properly?" addresses the British Phonographic Institute's weird, vehement silence
on Parliament's debate on its pet legislation, the dread Digital Economy Bill. Vehement silence? Oh yes.
Last week, the BPI sent me a vehement denial after I published a report that its spokesman had said that there was no need for further debate over the 24,000+ word bill, claiming he'd said no such thing (Parliament hasn't debated the bill at all, and at present it seems like it'll be rammed through with a mere afternoon's debate). But when I asked whether the BPI believed the debate to date had been sufficient, they just ignored the question.
One long-serving MP told me that under normal circumstances, "a bill of this size would probably have a one-day second reading debate and then about 60 to 80 hours in committee, where it would be scrutinised line by line, clause by clause". However, under the current accelerated schedule, "it will receive one day for second reading and at the very most, two hours in a committee of the whole house. The government will programme the debate so huge chunks of the bill might not receive any scrutiny at all..."
Does the BPI want MPs to debate the digital economy bill properly?
The BPI's member companies stand to gain enormous power and wealth from this Bill - including the power to decide which British families are allowed to participate in digital society. They've written sections of it. They produce a weekly, in-depth status report on the bill's progress (albeit these reports are somewhat loony: the leaked one suggested that the MI5 were behind the opposition!).
Are we to believe that they have no opinion on whether this bill has seen enough parliamentary debate?
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