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Digital Economy, the aftermath

April 8, 2010

J and I stuck the TV on at a quarter to nine last night to watch the third reading of the Digital Economy bill. There was much to-ing and fro-ing, but two consistent themes emerged: 1) the bill is/was far too broad in its powers given its stated purpose; and 2) this should have gone to the Commons earlier. It was ready for scrutiny, apparently, right after the Christmas break. Instead we get it the night before the prorogation (wonderful parliamentary word) of Parliament, and about half of its clauses skimmed without discussion because the House ran out of time. It was embarrassingly transparent how much of a rush job was going on, really.

The only good thing I can take from this is that there was actually a lot of sense being talked in the chamber, by Labour backbenchers, by the Lib Dems, even a couple of Tories. So the guff the Rt Hon Stephen Timms kept spouting about ‘broad cross-party consensus’ was pretty see-through – of those who cared about the bill enough to show up, there clearly wasn’t a consensus, and that showed in the final vote.

The hall was pretty empty for the debate – maybe fifty/sixty people present – but the final division saw 236 votes, just over one-third of the House. The bill passed 189 to 47.

It is a stupid, stupid, badly-written, over-broad, invitingly misappliable law, the mutant lovechild of Peter Mandelson and the record industry, and it is now law. Well, crap. I think the best we can now hope for is either a) substantial amendments under the new government (possible from a coalition, unlikely from the Tories) or b) the creation of a good regulator to make sure that the powers of the bill aren’t misused. I’m not holding my breath for either, but there’s no point screaming about its passage now: it’s through, we have to deal with it.

Via Hansard and the Parliamentary website, I bring you the names and party affiliations of the 47 naysayers.

Labour Abbott, Ms Diane – Burgon, Colin – Challen, Colin – Corbyn, Jeremy – Dismore, Mr. Andrew – Drew, Mr. David (Lab/co-op) – Gerrard, Mr. Neil – Grogan, Mr. John – Hoey, Kate – Howarth, rh Mr. George – Jones, Lynne – Joyce, Eric – Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter – Lazarowicz, Mark (Lab/co-op) – Love, Mr. Andrew (Lab/co-op) – Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert – Mitchell, Mr. Austin – Palmer, Dr. Nick – Reed, Mr. Andy (Lab/co-op) – Simpson, Alan – Todd, Mr. Mark – Truswell, Mr. Paul – Watson, Mr. Tom

Total: 23 (of 345)

Conservative Amess, Mr. David – Cash, Mr. William – Chope, Mr. Christopher – Davis, rh Mr. David – Fallon, Mr. Michael

Total: 5 (of 193)

Liberal Democrat Barrett, John – Beith, rh Sir Alan – Breed, Mr. Colin – Burstow, Mr. Paul – Carmichael, Mr. Alistair – Davey, Mr. Edward – Featherstone, Lynne – Foster, Mr. Don – Hancock, Mr. Mike – Harris, Dr. Evan – Howarth, David – Hughes, Simon – Keetch, Mr. Paul – Öpik, Lembit – Russell, Bob – Thurso, John

Total: 17 (of 63)

Plus Davies, Mr. Dai (Independent) – Paisley, rh Rev. Ian (Democratic Unionists) – Price, Adam (Plaid Cymru)

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul Skinner permalink
    April 8, 2010 11:12 am

    Let’s see if wordress likes image tags in comments:

    In case it doesn’t work:


    I’ve included the tellers for Lib Dem and Labour as votes.

  2. Paul Skinner permalink
    April 8, 2010 11:19 am

    When going through the list of “No”s I had a chuckle that the Reverend Ian Paisley said No.
    I wonder if he ever votes “Aye”.

  3. wickedday permalink
    April 8, 2010 12:08 pm

    It did get marked as spam, but I have unspammed it and trashed the duplicate.

    Very telling, those graphs. I’m surprised that so few of the Tories bothered to show up at all – given the levels of popular dislike for this bill, I would have thought they’d have jumped at the chance to put the boot in. On the other hand they did get some of it taken out at second reading – horsetrading, I guess.

    At least the Lib Dems stuck to their guns, even if only a third of them made the vote.

  4. knightofthedropdowntable permalink*
    April 8, 2010 3:04 pm

    I thought about linking up names with parties earlier, but I have better (if more boring) things to do here at work… I was worried about low Lib Dem turnout and voting against, but I’m happier now I see that not a single one voted Aye. It also seems Labour turned out in force to push this through, despite all the very good points against it raised by the opposition and even their own backbench, and so without significant help from the Tories even the whole Lib Dem party wouldn’t have been able to stop it. The main arguments in favour seemed to be ‘you have a point, but we don’t care right now – we’ll add amendments later, honest’, which is the wrong way to approach this kind of thing, and ‘but the entertainment industry said we need this, and they give the country lots of money’, which has painfully clear motives.

    Also, does anyone else despair that it only took 30% of the UK’s MPs voting Aye to pass it? I guess it would be unreasonable to expect every MP to be at every bill, but 30% isn’t exactly a majority. Our MP wasn’t there either, maybe we should have petitioned him…

  5. Paul Skinner permalink
    April 8, 2010 5:48 pm

    Indeed. The graphs have effectively changed my vote from a spoiled ballot paper to Lib Dem now anyway.

  6. Paul Skinner permalink
    April 13, 2010 11:00 am

    And here I am, back to this entry.

    Care to read this from my MP:

    I’m particularly amused at the sixth paragraph of the first page.

  7. wickedday permalink
    April 13, 2010 12:30 pm

    Damn you gumming up my spam filter with your links …

    That’s a masterpiece of appearing very concerned without actually saying anything substantial. (Unless you consider parroting the Party line substantial. Also I can’t be the only person who sees the word ‘party’ capitalised and goes ‘1984!’)

    Clearly Mr Pickles’ office letter-writer is well on the way to political superstardom.

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