Committee (3rd Day) (Continued)

Part of Digital Economy Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 8:10 pm on 18th January 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Howard of Rising Lord Howard of Rising - Shadow Minister (Also Shadow Minister for Treasury and Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Minister, Shadow Minister (Also Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Treasury), Culture, Media and Sport, - Shadow Minister (Also Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Minister 8:10 pm, 18th January 2010

My Lords, I support the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. The government amendment is interesting. I sympathise with the Government's explanation. Many of the provisions in the Bill are the result of drafting a document in a rush to meet a timetable, as I commented when speaking to the previous amendment. It is clear to all of us how much better the Bill could have been if time had been made so that a little more thought could have been applied in the first place.

These provisions have been discussed for a long time and, once the Bill is made law, the uncertainties that we have debated over the past few days will be hanging over the industry's head until the code is agreed. Now we have all the further uncertainties added by European law. This cannot be right when trying to introduce legislation on a difficult and fast-moving industry. We understand the need for codes but to leave the industry not knowing where it stands and what it can or cannot do, cannot be right. How long a delay would the Minister consider acceptable? Is the eight months he mentioned satisfactory? I am not clear how long a period the Government are thinking of. What steps will they take if Ofcom is unable to resolve any insurmountable difficulties or disagreements?

We may also have to add another 12 months of potential European legislation on top. I agree that, in practical terms, it is unlikely to be 12 months but, nevertheless, if you are planning a business and how to run it, it is difficult to know what to do when you are faced with that kind of uncertainty for that length of time.