Each session, some of the Bills promised in the Government’s programme begin their passage in the Lords. Among those being introduced in the House this session is the Digital Economy Bill. It had its Second Reading today. The Bill itself is not massive in size – 49 clauses and three schedules – but it nonetheless covers a lot of ground: its long title encompasses eight separate purposes. It has attracted a great deal of interest, not least because of the provisions covering online infringements of copyright. I have been struck by the number of briefings I have received (mostly, and appropriately, by e-mail), well in excess of the number one normally receives. It is clearly a Bill that is going to require a great deal of attention in committee. I am just starting to examine it detail, so any comments from readers are welcome.
One aspect of the Bill that interests me is to do with its form. Other than the final clauses that form the General clauses (45-49), every clause amends an earlier piece of legislation (mostly the Communications Act 2003), making it difficult to grasp fully the change made without going back to the earlier legislation. It is another case where a Keeling-like schedule (showing the original legislation and how this Bill changes it) would doubtless be valuable.