Digital Economy Bill [ Lords]

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 6th April 2010.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 4:44 pm, 6th April 2010

We are stating categorically that we reserve the right to review anything that becomes law as a result of the wash-up, if we win the next election, and we will indeed review it, if it turns out that the legislation is flawed. However, the country and the digital industries that the Secretary of State talked about are in an invidious position. Legislation is urgently needed to protect jobs, and their competitive position. It has taken this Government 13 years to bring these issues before the House, and the industries are worried that if the whole thing is killed now, they might again have to wait a very long time, and that their competitive position will be eroded.

The Government have left industry in an extremely difficult position. My particular bugbear is their obsession with consultations and reviews. We have had two public service broadcasting reviews, and two consultations on community radio, two on the phone tax, two on product placement, one on video games, one on regional news, one on listed events and one on spectrum. When Stephen Carter took over the broadcasting and communications brief, we hoped that that might change, but when he published his "Digital Britain" final report we had another 12 consultations, and even he, despite having accepted a peerage, was not prepared to stay even 12 months to see his report turned into legislation.

We agree with the Secretary of State about the critical importance of the digital and creative industries-the largest independent television production sector in the world, the second largest music exporter in the world and, depending on how we measure them, the third largest film and video games industries in the world. When we desperately need to rebuild a broken economy in proven areas of British competitive advantage, what way is this to treat those industries, and what way is this to treat Parliament-denying us the chance to debate, scrutinise and amend this vital legislation?

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