Electronic Communications Bill — 29 Nov 1999

[Relevant documents: The Trade and Industry Committee reported on the Draft Electronic Communications Bill in its Fourteenth Report of Session 1998-99, HC 862. Its Seventh Report, on Building Confidence in Electronic Commerce: The Government's Proposals, HC 187, and the Government's response thereto, contained in Promoting Electronic Commerce, Cm 4417.]

Order for Second Reading read.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

When my grandmother left Britain nearly 100 years ago, it took her months to reach Australia, and it took months for her first letter to reach home. These days, a letter takes less than a week, but an e-mail takes less than a minute. That is just one small example of how our world is being transformed by electronic networks.

The Electronic Communications Bill will modernise our laws for the world of e-mail and the internet. It is just part of our strategy to make this country the best place in the world for electronic commerce.

Electronic networks--the convergence of communications and computing--are changing everything. They destroy jobs and create new ones at quite terrifying speed. Already in the United Kingdom, one in six people works for companies that did not exist five years ago. Networks have transformed global trade, creating financial markets in which billions of dollars are moved around the world daily. They are transforming manufacturing, allowing global teams of engineers to work around the world, around the clock, designing new products and testing them in simulation before the prototype is even built. They are transforming education, and they will certainly transform politics. Indeed, I must congratulate the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan) on achieving a parliamentary first--an electronic petition. I am not sure whether the House is yet equipped to receive an electronic petition electronically--I fear not. When I saw the electronic petition in my in-box this morning, and when I saw "You've got mail", I confess that I was not thinking of the hon. Gentleman.

Our goal is clear. This country led the world into the first industrial revolution, and now we are determined to be winners in the new economy. Our strategy for that is also clear. We need modern, competitive markets that will enable the fast growth of electronic commerce; confident consumers with the skills and access to exploit the potential of the internet; and a leading-edge Government, who are exploiting to the full the potential of the new technologies to transform the ways in which we deliver services to citizens and citizens communicate with the Government.

Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington):

One of the biggest impediments to the use of the internet in my constituency, where incomes are generally low, is the cost. How can British Telecom retain the right to charge

I beg to move, To leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:

"this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Electronic Communications Bill because it introduces a completely unnecessary element of regulation in the supervision of electronic commerce which will damage the United Kingdom's lead in this field and because no proper consideration has been given to the manner in which United Kingdom law will interact with impending EU law, in particular with regard to the jurisdiction that will govern electronic trade."

At that stage, Interforum said what we were saying:

"We advocate a simple e-commerce Bill containing part II,"--

Over the past two years, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who has ultimate responsibility for dealing with the millennium bug, and I have engaged in friendly debate. I asked her to produce a league table of Departments to enable us to assess risks from the bug Department by Department. Eventually, a sort of league table was agreed.

The Minister has 20 minutes to reply, so will he tell us how the Government will judge whether self-regulation does or does not work? What will the criteria be? Part I contains clauses 1 to 9, which make up 60 per cent. of the Bill. Whether part I comes into effect will depend on the answer to those questions.

that was one of the suggestions that we heard from the Opposition--

"The scheme should have a means of taking into account the views of consumers.

The scheme needs effective mechanisms for ensuring compliance with these standards"--

ion put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 128, Noes 319.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 126 (+2 tell)079.0%
Lab300 (+2 tell) 0072.6%
LDem17 0037.0%
PC0 1025.0%
SNP2 0033.3%
Total:319 127071.0%

Rebel Voters - sorted by vote

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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