Digital Economy Bill [ Lords]

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 5:26 pm on 6th April 2010.

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Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 5:26 pm, 6th April 2010

The Bill will have Liberal Democrat support as it goes through the wash-up, subject to the three conditions that I am outlining, each of which it would be easy for the Government to accede to.

I referred to the second condition in an intervention on Mr. Hunt, as well as in a question to the Leader of the House. We believe that technical measures are a drastic step that should never be taken unless it proves absolutely necessary, so the next Parliament deserves to be given the maximum opportunity to scrutinise any such proposals. We also think that an amendable measure should come before the new House of Commons, which is why we suggest that clause 11 should provide for the super-affirmative procedure, as is proposed for clause 18.

The third point that needs to be dealt with-it was not adequately addressed in another place-relates to universities, libraries and small businesses. The networks set up by such organisations have limited control over their users. Such organisations, especially hotels and internet cafés, provide hundreds and thousands of wi-fi hot spots throughout the country, and they will be very vulnerable to the legislation. There is often only one IP address for many terminals, as is the case in the Houses of Parliament. We believe it is important that an amendment should be tabled to deal with these concerns. The Government said that they can be dealt with in the code, but we would prefer a clearer guarantee written into the Bill.

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