Digital Economy Bill returns to the Lords

Stylised representation of internet.
28 April 2017

The Digital Economy Bill returned to the House of Lords on Thursday 27 April for consideration of Commons amendments in 'ping pong'.

The House of Lords chose not to insist on its earlier amendments; some Commons amendments were made in their place. This means both Houses agreed on the final text of the bill and it progressed to Royal Assent.

Royal Assent took place on 27 April. Royal Assent is the monarch's agreement to make the bill into an Act of Parliament (law) and is a formality.

Lords third reading: Wednesday 5 April

Members discussed the Electronic Communications Code and the function of the Information Commissioner's Office.

Following the completion of third reading, the bill now returns to the Commons for consideration of Lords amendments.

Lords report stage day three: Wednesday 29 March

Members discussed BBC funding, electronic programme guides and conditions for ticket resales. There were three votes (divisions) on proposed changes (amendments) to the bill.

Members looked at a change to set up an independent BBC Licence Fee Commission to recommend future BBC funding levels. In a vote on this change, 268 members were for with 201 against, so the change was made.

The next vote was on a change to ensure public service broadcasting is given prominence in on-demand or online television services, as it is in electronic programme guides. This went to a vote: 217 for and 188 against, so this change was also made.

Peers then turned to a change to require ticket resellers to give a unique reference or booking number with any tickets sold. In a vote on this change, 180 members were for and 157 were against, so this change was made.

Lords report stage day two: Monday 20 March

Members discussed age verification for and regulation of online pornography and codes of practice for age verification providers and social media platforms.

There were five votes (divisions) on proposed changes (amendments) to the bill.

Members discussed a change to stop the same individuals acting as regulators for online pornography age verification and carrying out enforcement functions in relation to illegal material. This went to a vote where 155 members were in favour and 209 members were against. The change was not made.

The second vote was on a change to insert a definition of and regulate online extreme pornographic material. In this vote, 46 members were for and 176 were against, which meant this change was not made.

In the next vote, members considered a change to ensure age verification providers are approved and abide by a code of practice. Members voted 74 to 199 against this change, so this change was not made.

The fourth vote was on a change to force publication of a code of practice for social media providers on online abuse, including a duty of care to ensure the safety of young people. In this vote, 203 members were for and 176 were against. This change was made.

The final vote was on a change to require the government to publish a report on the impact of the bill's age verification sections. 179 members were in favour and 159 were against. This change was made.

A third day of report stage is scheduled for 22 March.

Lords report stage day one: Wednesday 22 February

Members discussed subjects including caps to mobile phone bills, copyright infringement, 4G and broadband provision.  There were three divisions (votes) on proposed changes to the bill.

Members discussed a change setting out speeds and other specifications for universal service broadband obligations, the services broadband providers must offer. There was a vote, with 250 members in favour and 206 against, so the change was made.

The second vote was on a change putting a cap on monthly mobile telephone bills and letting end-users change their providers more easily. In this vote, 244 members were in favour of the change with 182 against, so it was made.

The final vote was on a change requiring universal service broadband providers to offer a social tariff to prevent digital exclusion. 133 voted for this, with 182 against, so the change was not made.

A second day of report stage is yet to be scheduled.

Lords committee stage day four: Wednesday 8 February 2017

Members discussed the BBC, including funding, governance and the BBC Charter. Members also discussed internet filters and the resale of tickets by online secondary ticket sellers.

Lords committee stage day three: Monday 6 February

Members discussed copyright infringement, codes of conduct for data sharing, and cyber-security reporting.

Lords committee stage day two: Thursday 2 February

Members discussed age verification, the prevention of online abuse and the independence of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

Lords committee stage day one: Tuesday 31 January

Members discussed Ofcom annual reporting, communications equipment on buildings and bill limits for mobile phone contracts.

Lords second reading: Tuesday 13 December

Digital Economy Bill summary

This bill will:

  • provide a universal broadband service for the UK.
  • enable fast digital communication services for citizens and businesses.
  • shape the digital world to the benefit of children, consumers and businesses.
  • support the digital transformation of government.
  • enable delivery of better public services, research and statistics.
  • grant additional powers to Ofcom in respect of information provision, consumer switching and automatic compensation.
  • create a new Electronics Communication Code and other infrastructure matters.
  • provide better controls on online pornography, protection from nuisance calls and digital intellectual property.
  • enable data sharing between public authorities and certain measures relating to the BBC.

Further information

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