Thursday, April 08, 2010

Digital Economy Bill – third reading – and guess who turned up to say No one last time?

There was a flurry of activity around my post last night about the second reading of the Digital Economy Bill and I had an unexpectedly robust exchange with my local MP on Facebook.

However, about the same time, the real action was back in the Commons where the streamlined Digital Economy Bill was back for its third reading. The proposed new tax on phone lines to fund super-fast broadband rollout was no longer included. And the “wide-ranging powers [for the Government] to block websites” was amended. Broadcast magazine (behind its paywall) explains:

The new clause allows the Secretary of State for Business to order the blocking of “a location on the internet which the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright”.

No Northern Ireland MPs participated in the mammoth six hour second reading. Though Jeffrey Donaldson was keen to point out (and I’m happy to clarify):

“I was present at Westminster all day yesterday together with Peter Robinson, William McCrea, David Simpson, Gregory Campbell and Sammy Wilson. I attended several meetings in the House of Commons during the day and was present when the Speaker called for the vote on the Digital Economy Bill. No division occurred.”

He later added

“I was attending other meetings in the House on a range of issues including Policing in NI, the Presbyterian Mutual Society etc. If every MP sat in the Chamber all day, there would be very little work done at Westminster!”

SDLP MP Mark Durkan was also over in Westminster, though no confirmation that he attended any of the second reading in the chamber.

Ian Paisley taking his seat after voting against the third reading of the Digital Economy Bill

For the third reading, we did have a Northern Ireland MP in the Commons. And he voted too!

Keith Belfast has blogged today saying:

“In his final act as an MP, former-firebrand and closet silver-surfer, Rev Ian Paisley was the only Northern Irish MP to attend the Digital Economy Bill vote – and he voted against it!”

“So hats off to the Rev, who has now become an unlikely ally to the expanding Northern Irish tech community.”

If you watch back the footage of the debate, you’ll see Ian Paisley taking his seat on the right hand side (2:16:50) after the final vote. No sign of him in his seat during the previous two hours. But then as his colleague reminds us, “if every MP sat in the Chamber all day, there would be very little work done at Westminster!”

I’ll put my tongue back in my cheek now ...


Anonymous said...

Alan, I believe Jeffrey Donaldson is mistaken. According to The Register, there *was* a division, but only on the 'blocking' section of the Bill. So, Jeffrey, explain that one please. (and by the way, you've just lost my vote)

Supergreensunbear said...

Sure at least we've a chance to vote them out. I came across an amzing tiwst in the build up to the election today. If only all MPs could actually be bothered to show up and vote like that Rev!

Alan in Belfast said...

So - to borrow a question from Irish News on Saturday - who do you think could be NI's Nick Clegg?