NB: This blog was set up before the dissolution of parliament, after which there are no MPs. Until the election, I’ll be posting at www.ericjoyce.co.uk. When parliament returns, regardless of who’s in power, the DE Act will be revisited – all the parties have agreed that it has flaws which urgently need correcting.
How can we work together to improve things here?
Over the coming year there’s likely to be a bunch of Statutory Instruments (SIs, or wee bits of legislation aimed at specific problems) where everyone can influence change. While a few MPs were properly engaged in the DEBill, a lot weren’t. The Department responsible even seemed not to understand what IP stands for. There’s a latent campaign already, of course (see #debill #deact #deb #38degrees and others on Twitter, and also here . What needs to happen now, I think, is for folk to make sure their MP (i.e. get all candidates to commit) after the election pays proper attention.
I’ve written to all MPs (before the dissolution yesterday) and asked them to attend a meeting in the first week of the new parliament. If folk agree with the content of my letter, which is below, it’d be massively helpful if you’d contact your MP and ask them to attend. If you ask candidates during the election campaign period (i.e. ‘if you win, will you attend the meeting?) then you’re likely to get good responses. If a candidate doesn’t know about it (a lot of new candidates won’t know how such meetings are set up and so forth), get them to email me on email@example.com if you like. A good turnout of MPs will mean the new parliament starts with the DE Act at the top of the agenda, where it belongs, and not at the bottom. From there, we can get down to business and get in the folk who really know what they’re talking about – you lot.
Here’s the text of my letter. And thanks for reading.
You’ll know that the Digital Economy Act was passed last week as part of the ‘wash-up’. Most folk, and those MPs who followed the proceedings closely, believe that the Act has good intent and does include some important measures. Yet it’s also widely accepted, including by both the government and opposition parties, that the Act includes many serious flaws which will need fixing in the new parliament.
The truncated passage of the bill brought an enormous amount of comment from people who have great knowledge of, and considerable personal involvement in, the stuff of the bill. Most of that was through social media – the bill was one of the largest Twitter trending topics in the world. The view amongst all, no kidding, all, of those commenting on Twitter was against its successful passage. There was a digital divide, though, since many of those with a significant interest, and who are frequent users of social media, chose to stay silent on what some of them had also identified as flaws.
To put no to fine a point on it, social media was ignored as a means of expressing intelligent dissent about a bill to which most of those making comment could have made improvements. That was an almost inexpressibly ironic thing to happen.
The purpose of this note is to ask you, if you’re returned, to consider attending a meeting at the House of Commons in the first week of the new parliament to discuss how we can all help to make changes to the Digital Economy Act which takes intelligent account of what many of folk out there, on both sides of the argument, have been saying about the flaws inherent in a well-intentioned bill.
Do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can. And if you’d like to know anything at all about the bill, let me know and I’ll email you straight back with a reply. I’ll send this note to new MPs, of course.
With best wishes
Eric Joyce MP, Falkirk (until dissolution and then, with a bit of luck, after 6 May)