Digital Economy Bill [ Lords]

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 7:57 pm on 6th April 2010.

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Photo of John Robertson John Robertson Labour, Glasgow North West 7:57 pm, 6th April 2010

It is a pleasure to follow Mr. Redwood, because that means that he has finished. He adds to the point scoring of the hon. Members for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale) and for Mid-Worcestershire (Peter Luff) against the Government and the Bill, but they then turned around and said that they will support it. It would appear that, as my hon. Friend Mr. Watson would say, they have capitulated to Ministers. I am quite happy for them to do so; I know that my hon. Friend will not be, but there we go. Regrettably, I agree with much of what was said by Pete Wishart, but I am sure that I can find something that I do not agree with in what he said. He will also support the Government tonight, which obviously makes a pleasant change-not something that he does very often.

Sadly, now that the election has been called, my hon. Friend Derek Wyatt will be leaving us. He and I have been joint chairs of the all-party parliamentary group on communications. He is a great man who has great ideas, and I certainly listen to him. I hope that he will go on to greater things in the years to come. I will miss him in the group, and I am sure that the House will be a poorer place for his having passed on to other things.

I agree with a lot of Opposition Members and some of my hon. Friends in that I regret the fact that the Bill did not start in this House. I have always felt that we, as Members elected by the people, should have the first say on any Bill and that the other place should scrutinise what we do. That is particularly the case for a Bill such as this, which will have a great impact on many of my constituents. The number of e-mails that I have received over the past month or so shows that more people are interested in the Bill than I had thought, so we should have proceeded in that way. However, as we heard earlier, we are where we are and we have to move on; I just wanted to put that on record.

I want to touch on some aspects of the Bill relating to broadband that have perhaps not been discussed. I should declare an interest: I worked for BT for 31 years and my wife still works for the company, which explains why I might be nicer to BT than the loyal Opposition. The Opposition still have hang-ups about British Telecom and the BBC. It is a bit like the attitude of Mr. Cash towards Europe-unfortunately he is no longer in the Chamber. He cannot get his head around normal things when talking about anything to do with Europe and, sadly, the same applies to the Conservative party when it talks about BT and the BBC.

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