It’s been quiet around here I know, but here for the record is the contents of the letter than I sent to my MP, Jim Fitzpatrick today:
I apologise up front if this email comes over as sounding frustrated but last night spoke for itself.
The Digital Economy Bill Debate last night was, frankly, embarrassing for Parliament. This is an issue of confidence in our democratic process for a lot of people. Some stats from http://debillitated.heroku.com/
Out of 646 MPs only 40 turned up and only 10 stayed for the whole debate.
In contrast there were 5251 individuals discussing it on twitter, with 16180 tweets published. At peak it was one of the top 10 topics globally and has 20x more tweets/minute than any tweets to do with the UK election. People do care about this and to see the scorn that parliament is treating this issue is damning.
Some quotes from the debate last night to save you looking it up in Hansard:
Austin Mitchell said:
“What would a delay of another three months or so in order to discuss the Bill properly and give it full consideration do? There would be no danger in taking such an approach. A delay of three months would not produce the collapse of the creative industries, which has been held up as the threat hanging over us. This needs to be settled and discussed by the Commons through its full procedures; this should not be a rushed Bill, carried on the basis of the half attention of a discredited, dying and distracted Parliament.”
John Redwood said:
“It is a disgrace that the House is not treated with courtesy by the Government. It is quite wrong that a Bill of such importance and magnitude was not tabled earlier. It is quite wrong that there is an attempt to rush through all parts of the Bill without proper scrutiny and debate.”
John Grogan observed:
“I looked at all the Bills that received a Second Reading after a Prime Minister had gone to the palace-I went back as far as 1987… I managed to find the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Bill in 1987, the Architects Bill in 1997, the Lieutenancies Bill in 1997 and the International Organisations Bill in 2005. What they all shared in common was that there was no dispute between hon. Members in respect of them. It really is shameful that we are proceeding in this way.”
Tom Watson said:
“It is a very great pity that the Bill cannot be tested in Committee in the light of some of those questions. As a twice ex-Whip, I am rather embarrassed by the fact that the Bill is being railroaded through in the wash-up. Frankly, there has been a squalid deal between the three Front Benches, and they should be ashamed of themselves. The people who care about this Bill-and there are many out there-will see that for what it is.”
Please, take the time to vote against this horrendously badly draughted bill, or at least push to have it delayed for full scrutiny in the next Parliament. If you feel you can’t do that then please talk to the whips about it to explain that there is a significant groundswell of opinion about this and that it very much is a voting issue.
I have also signed the open letter here which you may find a worthwhile read: http://nevali.net/post/501647501/an-open-letter-to-sion-simon-pete-wishart-david
I will be publishing this letter on my blog at http://toblog.bryans.org/.
Many thanks once again for taking the time to read this, I do appreciate it.
UPDATE 2010-04-07 11:20: Jim Fitzpatrick’s reply:
Like many MPs Toby, I was watching much of the debate in my office here at Westminster until the close. The debate resumes today and I will update you with the outcome. It will be interesting to see what changes are made today but there is a lot of consensus that much of the Bill is needed as I read in Hansard from some of the speeches I missed. I’ll let you know the outcome,
Best Wishes, Jim
UPDATE 2010-04-07 11:40: My reply to Jim Fitzpatrick:
Thank you for your reply as always.
Unfortunately the statistics that the pro consensus are based on are incorrect or based on a flawed basis:
The entertainment industry as a whole has seen record revenues. The period from January until October 2009 saw record singles sales within the UK, according to the British Phonographic Industry. So much so that the number of singles sold in that period was nearly three times the number sold for the whole of 2002. The statistics presented to Parliament are a simplistic measure of losses, based upon estimates of file-sharing supplied by the British Phonographic Industry (themselves extrapolated from a survey of a small group of people, and was widely debunked in June 2009). Indeed, the sectors of industry which the referenced report claims could suffer three hundred thousand job losses in the UK employs only marginally more than that to begin with. Is it really the case that legitimate sales will cease altogether, despite rising steadily for the past ten years?
I should also note that the consensus on the pro side consisted of the same number of the consensus against in the debate.
There are an awful lot of creative people who do not want this bill. It is only the large companies that have not moved quickly with technology that want it. As always increased regulation will only serve to shore up the market incumbants and make it more difficult for independents and new startups to enter the industry. I consider this a bad thing. Do you? This will also apply to the ISPs that the burden of cost will fall on for the (technological unfeasable) measures the bill forces on them.
Please, at the least, ask your whips to drop clause 11 to 18 which are by far the most damaging clauses in this bill.
Many thanks again for reading,
UPDATE 2010-04-07 14:28: Jim Fitzpatrick’s reply:
Thanks Toby, I’ll let you know what happens,
UPDATE 2010-04-08 12:16: Jim Fitzpatrick was one of the Ayes.