Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:57 pm on 6th April 2010.

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Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Chair, Modernisation of the House of Commons Committee, Minister of State (Government Equalities Office), The Leader of the House of Commons , Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party 3:57 pm, 6th April 2010

As far as the Digital Economy Bill is concerned, the hon. Gentleman is right to say that there will be a full Second Reading debate today, so it will have a normal Second Reading debate. It has had considerable scrutiny already in the House of Lords: it had seven days in Committee, which is more than any other Bill in the programme, and three days on Report, whereas every other Bill in the programme had only one day. However, I know that Members want it to be scrutinised in this House too, and there will be a further chance for scrutiny at the time of making the regulations to give powers to the courts to block access to internet sites in relation to copyright infringement. As that element of the Bill has generated much debate, those regulations will be subject to a super-affirmative procedure, which will operate in the following way.

There will be a public consultation on the draft regulations prior to their being laid in Parliament and they will be laid in draft in the House with an explanation of why they satisfy the necessary thresholds required to make the regulations. Those thresholds are set out in the Bill. At the same time, the public consultation response will be published. Draft regulations will sit in the House for 60 days and, at the same time, Committees of both Houses will consider them. That is the critical part of the super-affirmative procedure. It allows Committees, including Members of this House, to consider the provisions even though there will not be Committee stage in the normal way. Final regulations that take into account the recommendations of the Committees will be laid in Parliament and will be subject to the normal affirmative procedure. Of course, the Bill will make progress in the wash-up only on the basis of consensus.

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