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Digital Economy Bill faces second reading

Public consultation on some clauses even if bill passed

The Controversial Digital Economy Bill will receive a third reading in the House of Commons today.

The bill, which features measures to tackle internet piracy, was debated in the House of Commons for the first time yesterday.

There have been many concerns that the bill will be 'rushed' through parliament without proper scrutiny by MPs to ensure it becomes legislation before the general election, which was yesterday confirmed for May 6.

Among the clauses in the bill that have raised concerns, is the ability to give courts the power to order websites containing copyright-infringing material, such as YouTube, to be blocked by ISPs.

Leader of the Commons, Hattiet Harman, revealed that this clause would be subject to 'a super-affirmative procedure' that would require further parliamentary consultation even if the bill is passed before the election.

"There will be a public consultation on the draft regulations prior to them being laid in Parliament," Harman said.

"Regulations will be laid in draft in the House with an explanation of why they satisfy the necessary thresholds which are required in order to make the regulations. At the same time, a public consultation response will be published. Draft regulations will sit in the House for 60 days."

All three parties revealed they were opposed some aspects of the bill.

Labour MP Tom Watson highlighted the public concerns the bill was being rushed through parliament.

"In the last seven days, 20,000 people have taken the time to email their MPs. They are extremely upset that it won't have proper scrutiny," Watson said referring to a campaign that urged web users to write to their local MP regarding the bill.

MPs will be given one-hour to amend the bill before deciding whether it will be made legislation.

See also: Digital Economy Bill to get appeal clause


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