Digital Economy Bill debate: Parliament should not behave this way

The Digital Economy Bill has had a long passage through the Lords, and has still to transit the Commons. Here are 10 quotes from the debate.

It is said that anyone who loves sausages or the law should never see either being made.

The Digital Economy Bill has had a long and at times acrimonious passage through the Lords, and has still to transit the Commons. Here are 10 quotes from the debate just prior to the Lords passing responsibility for the bill to the Commons.

Lord Whitty:

"We have seen one of the worst examples in my memory of the political parties being captured by a producer interest."

"We have imposed police powers on ISPs, which are reluctant to accept them. We have threatened several millions of our citizens with exclusion from the internet by administrative decree, with dubious means of identifying who was actually the perpetrator of the alleged infringement."

"We seem to have a near unanimous position in support of the government proposals - apart from the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, myself and one or two others who have appeared maverick in this debate."

"It has landed us with a pretty much unenforceable law that will not get a penny back to the rights owners whom the legislation was intended to support."

"An administrative body will be threatening and imposing a sanction that is not subject to due process and where the subscriber is effectively regarded as guilty until proved innocent."

"Closing down a significant number of subscribers does not mean that any money whatever goes to the creative artists. The only people who will immediately benefit are perhaps a few well-heeled organisations and their rather unscrupulous lawyers."

Lord Puttnam:

"The ball was dropped badly early on by the failure of the government to understand that, in exchange for a firm commitment to protect copyright, a review should have been undertaken of those areas in which copyright could be freed up."

"Why on earth were the ISPs early on allowed to wriggle off the hook of their obligations as part and parcel of the value chain by which copyright material creates revenues and reaches customers?"

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer:

"When a person, an institution, an internet café or a university is accused of transgressing these rules, it will hit the individual very hard. How will they disprove the accusations? They will have to employ a computer expert to counter the argument, but there will not be legal aid for this."

The Earl of Erroll:

"The bill is entirely a product of your Lordships' House. It will go to another place [the Commons] and will receive a second reading. One is told that no amendments will be permitted to it. It is a very dangerous way in which to pass legislation; in fact, it is unethical. If we were directors of a company we would probably be locked up for failing to undertake proper governance. Parliament should not behave in this way."

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