Adam Ingram, former Labour MP for East Kilbride
Voted for the bill
Letter to constituent
- Thank you for your letter of 16th March 2010 concerning the Digital Economy Bill and its progress through Parliament before the General Election.
- You will not be surprised to hear I have received a number of letters on this topic in recent weeks and I appreciate why you are unhappy at reports that the Bill could be passed into law without being properly debated in the House of Commons.
- As you will be aware, the Bill was introduced in the House of Lords and has gone through all stages there, being significantly amended in the process. There is obviously not time for it to be properly scrutinised by the House of Commons - ie, a Second Reading debate, detailed scrutiny in Committee, Report Stage and Third Reading - before the General Election has to be called.
- Indeed, we are fast running out the time for it to even have a Second Reading in the Commons, thought this is something which is a matter for the Leader of the House, Harriet Harman, and she may have more news at the next weekly Business Statement.
- My understanding of what will happen to the Bill is as follows. If the Bill does not get listed for a Second Reading in the Commons, then it falls, ie, it does not become law and would to be re-introduced after the next General Election.
- If it does make the floor of the House of Commons, eg, if there is a Second Reading debate in the Commons chamber, then the non-controversial elements of the Bill may be dealt with during what is known as the "wash up" period. (This is the period after the Prime Minister goes to the Palace to signal a General Election but before Parliament is dissolved). This would have to be agreed by the three main political parties, and, if there is not a consensus, there will be no attempt made to push through any measures in the Commons by a parliamentary vote.
- I appreciate that there is real concern about some of the clauses in the Bill, in particular, the proposal to disconnect internet connections as a last resort in cases of illegal file-sharing. There is, however, much in the Bill which is uncontroversial, which needs to be enacted as soon as possible and for which there is broad support. These measures, and only these measures, may become law before the General Election.
- Of course, if the General Election does not take place until June, there may be time for full scrutiny of the Bill by the House of Commons, but I suspect that will not happen!
- I hope this provides you with some reassurance.
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