UK record lobby has vehement feelings on Digital Economy Bill debate, won't say what they are

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..."

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?

Does the BPI want MPs to debate the digital economy bill properly?


  1. I know it’s irritating but really, does anyone think the government has the slightest interest in what ordinary people think? They and their chums will change the law to suit them, they always have. Then they’ll manufacture mainstream media to back it up so anyone who disagrees must be a child molester or something. It’s sickening but what can you really do when those in power treat people like cattle?

  2. > “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…”

    Geez – those British politicians are using the same tactics to pass their IP laws that our politicians use to pass our healthcare laws!

    Well, as Pelosi said : after it’s passed we can read it to find out what’s in it!

    1. Did you cry about PATRIOT and FISA in the 2000s? Funny how the future tea-partiers didn’t seem to give a fuck about those.

    2. Last time I checked, the health care bill was supposed to reach Obama in August 2009. So I think comparing health care with the Digital Economy Bill is nonsense.

  3. I wonder who has received the inevitable kickback payments/future favours from the BPI cartel. Someone, somewhere has probably had their palms greased to aid and slyly implement this law mostly written by BPI execs. This law is being rushed through with minimal consultation with the rest of the country. Full debate and full consideration to be given now!

  4. Mandleson is possibly the most powerful person in government in the UK and isn’t elected.

    He doesn’t represent a constituency in the normal sense that democratically elected MPs do; the constituency he represents are the very rich and very powerful.

    The DEC is what they want and they’re going to be given it. I mean, of course it’s goign to go through in wash-up, without proper scrutiny: nothing about it is democratic: not the member of governemt pushing it, not the people who wrote it, not the people who favour it and notr the process by which it will be paassed into law or enforced against the people the media cartels view as their enemies.

    Capitalism (big ‘C’) is the enemy of democracy because it will always attempt to undermine it and subvert its power for its own end.

  5. If you don’t like a question just ignore it. Better yet, answer an imaginary question that you like instead. That’s standard PR tactics.

    If your bill can’t stand up to the scrutiny of debate – don’t have a debate. Standard political hackery.

  6. You just don’t understand – those comments are *copyrighted* and so they obviously can’t send you a copy of them without being in violation of their own fantasy laws.

  7. the timing, approach and content arouse the greatest suspicion…

    to be balanced – I could only suggest that fixing the BBC to suit Murdoch (& the Times, News of the World & Sun etc)is equally craven

  8. i’ve sent an email to the today programme on radio 4 to try and get them to cover this. MP’s care about the today programme since it’s quintessentially middle class, so here’s hoping.

  9. Of course they won’t answer your question. It’s designed to have no good answer (from their point of view). The weasel word is ‘properly’, which begs the question. By giving any answer they are implicitly agreeing with your premise that the bill has not been debated properly.

    The BPI’s position is that the bill has already been debated properly during the first reading and Lords reading.

    They are wrong, of course – but it is important to understand their motivation. And that Labour MP/BPI shill dude is nuts.

    The real problem is that no one except us nu media congnoscenti cares abou this bill. And there’s an election on, so MP’s aren’t going to care about this when they could be electioneering, calling each other names and talking about tax/service cuts which seems to be the core election battleground.

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