Labour MP's motion to subject Digital Economy Bill to full debate

UK Labour MP Austin Mitchell has had a change of heart on the dread Digital Economy Bill and has produced anearly day motion asking to have all 24,000+ words of it subjected to scrutiny and debate, rather than being hidden away in the undemocratic, secretive "wash-up" process: "That this House believes that the Digital Economy Bill [Lords] is too important to be taken further in the last days of a dying Parliament; and considers that a bill with so many repercussions for consumers, civil liberties, freedom of information and access to the internet should be debated and properly scrutinised at length and in detail, with a full opportunity for public discussion and representation in a new Parliament after the general election and not rushed through in the few days that remain in this Parliament." Write to your MP and support the motion!


  1. i notice that the early day motion is followed by the word ‘Lords’ in brackets, i would suggest therefore that this would mean that the bill is before the Lords rather than the house of commons. As such (and forgive my lack of knowlwedge of my own parlimentary rules etc.) can an MP actually do anything other than try to persuade the Lords to follow this motion?

    Should we be writing to a House of Lords representative as well/instead?

  2. Not of my business really, just out of curiosity, since I am not living in the UK: can someone explain to me why it is him and none of the LibDems that went forward with such a motion?

  3. Austin Mitchell is my MP and I wrote to him a couple of weeks ago about the Digital Economy Bill. Got a reply a few days later saying something along the lines of “everything is debated, you are wrong” which annoyed me a bit. But then I got another email this morning saying

    “In my reply to your email on the Digital Economy Bill I poured cold water on the idea that it might be rushed into law in these last days of a dying Parliament.

    I may have been wrong. It`s introduced for Second reading next Tuesday (6 April) and Consumer Focus fear that it could be rushed through on what`s called the “wash up” without a full committee debate, or the opportunity to make representations.

    I hope they`re wrong. It should be left for the new Parliament. The Bill is too important and has too many repercussions to be rushed. I`ve put down an Early Day Motion saying it shouldn`t proceed further and will try and speak to that effect in Tuesday`s debate. But just in case they do make such a daft attempt to rush it through when the attention of MPs is elsewhere on the General Election, you could send me an email about your concerns.”

    Definitely renewed my faith that some MPs do actually listen to you and try and help constituents.

  4. Done, FWIW.

    Most MPs just vote how they are told to vote.

    And do you know how often Early Day motions even get *debated* on the floor of the house of commons, let alone voted into action? Pretty much never.

  5. So wait a minute: doesn’t this bill make it easy for publishers to claim works found online are orphaned, and steal it?

    If so, then there is a way that non-UK folk can act: by writing to their [insert country here] representatives complaining that this UK law will allow UK publishers to steal copyrighted work from [insert country here]’s citizens.

    Just a thought.

  6. Wrote to mine asking them to sign it – got this reply:

    “Pointless. Parliament rose for Easter yesterday. I could not sign this until Tuesday when we return – the same day we debate the Bill.”

  7. I have written a letter to my MP about this. Template here:

    Dear xxx,

    Please can you let me know if you are going to support Early Day Motion 1223, which is being raised by Austin Mitchell MP (Lab)?

    It calls for a full debate over the Digital Economy Bill [Lords]. I have written to you to voice my concerns over this bill in the past and am very keen that it receives proper attention in Parliament. If it only receives a half-day’s discussion and is passed in the wash-up it will be a rough blow for our rights online.

    In addition, I am concerned about the amount of the text of the bill that has been written by the “British Phonographic Industry” lobbying group – I don’t think the bill contains adequate safeguards for protecting against abuse of the new laws by major copyrights holders in its current form. Major amendments are necessary to bring it in line with the current stance coming out of the European Parliament.

    Yours sincerely,


  8. Dear Hugh Bayley,

    I am writing to urge your support for Austin Mitchell’s early day motion asking for a full reading and debate of the Digital Economy Bill.

    It of course should go without saying that creative industries and individuals deserve to be paid fairly for their work, however the draconian measures contained within the DEB need to be examined and worked through properly.

    Disconnecting entire households from the internet, and with it news, entertainment, government services and the means of democratic expression would be a huge measure. To so server households from these resources on the mere accusation of wrong doing is counter to several of the basic tenets of English Justice. To push this kind of law through without debate would be a shocking betrayal of the people.

    Allowing ministers to shut down access to certain parts of the internet without further legislation also seems a hugely dangerous step, something which should not be done lightly. As I am sure you know laws get used in ways they’re not originally intended – just think of anti-terrorist legislation being used to find out if school catchment areas are being abused – and putting legislation in place that might allow or to be blocked will diminish us all.

    The DEB is a key bit of legislation which will shape Britain’s role in the next century. Please give it and us the respect we deserve by supporting calls for a full debate.

  9. IMO, Mitchell’s appeared well out of touch in recent years; very pleasantly surprised to see this come from him. I suppose once you’re his age, you don’t necessarily fear the Whips as much. Kudos to him.

  10. Dear Mrs Merron,

    You will know from our previous correspondence that I feel that the Digital Economy Bill offers a tremendous affront to the British People and Constitution, for the benefit of a group of companies that have admitted massive copyright theft, and who are under investigation for computer fraud, perjury, and racketeering.

    I understand, from your letters, that you also have concerns about the bill; enough concern that you contacted BIS on my behalf. As you will recall, they avoided many of the issues I rose, and seemed to put their faith in technical measures that are widely known to be unfit for purpose.

    It cannot have avoided your notice that your Right Honourable colleagues have caused great offence by electing to use the “washing up” procedure to avoid further debate on this controversial bill; given the concerns about the bill in somany quarters, this gives the impression of contempt for Parliament.

    You may be aware that your Honourable Friend the Member for Great Grimsby, Mr Austin Mitchell, has introduced an early day motion (No 1223) calling for the DEB to be subjected to proper parliamentary debate. If, as its proponents suggest, the bill is of so much benefit, then it has nothing to fear from this. If however, they are scared of a proper discussion of the pro and cons of the issue, then this indicates that to avoid a proper debate would be attempt an attempt by the Executive to override parliament – a matter which was settled in 1649.

    I would therefore express my hope that you will sign this motion. If you feel that you are unable, then I would benefit greatly from an explanation of why you feel that it was necessary to force a controversial bill past the house.

    Yours sincerely,

  11. This is my latest email to Simon Hughes MP

    Dear Mr Hughes,

    As this is the third email from me without any type of response I’m not going to hold my breath for a reply (unless I was one of those Indian swami’s who can bury there heads underground for inordinate amounts of time, which, unsurprisingly it seems most MP’s are doing regarding the DEB) but I was wondering if you will be supporting the early day motion 1223 which is being raised by Austin Mitchell MP calling for full scrutiny and debate on the Digital Economy Bill?

    Kind regards

    Patrick Spring

  12. I just emailed Charles Clarke MP using the template in reply #10.

    I doubt he’ll listen to me, of course.

  13. I wrote to Anne Main (my MP – Cons – St Albans), who signed the EDM and has responded to me.

    I an very pleasantly surprised, even though the bill has passed. (from a number of sites – I do not beleive I am the only one with anti-DEB views in St Albans). Neither Lab nor Lib PPC bothered to reply at all.

    I need to think of my next letter – asking for support getting this bill intelligently revised – she may well get my vote (and some might find that surprising)

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