Digital Economy Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 8th February 2017.

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Photo of Lord Clement-Jones Lord Clement-Jones Liberal Democrat 6:15 pm, 8th February 2017

My Lords, I think that many of us responding to the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Borwick, find ourselves in something of a cleft stick. He has introduced the subject matter superbly, and in principle the amendment is entirely correct. The noble Lord has a very good track record on physical access for the disabled and this is a continuation of that, in a sense, in a different sphere. He also has the courage to wear a House of Lords tie, so he cannot be all bad. The trouble is that this amendment does have flaws. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, if he speaks on this, will pick up on them. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has commented on this.

All of us want the amendment to succeed but it does need a further look. We have all had briefings from the public service broadcasters and the platforms, including Sky, who say that they can live with this in principle but are rather concerned about the fact that there is no parliamentary approval built in. There are a number of flaws; they recommend that the affirmative procedure should be applied to the first regulations; they recommend that the appropriate regulatory authority is specified; and they recommend that the Secretary of State should have a duty, before making the regulations, to consult on-demand service providers and other stakeholders—which, of course, would be the platforms. So I am very much in sympathy in spirit, but I hope that we will have a chance before Report to perfect the amendment so that the campaign of the noble Lord, Lord Borwick, will proceed as intended in due course.