Posted on January 13th, 2010 No comments
Welcome to the New Year - 2010
This will be an ‘interesting’ year - not the least of which through the absolute knowledge that we will have a General Election here in the UK this year and that the outcome is likely to be a change of government.
When that election will be is still open to some form of guess work. It is probable that the only person in a position to determine the election date does not yet know which date he will choose and that the actual date may well depend on circumstances. Hints from recent interviews suggest that later rather than earlier may be the form - The Crusher suspects that the date will go long leaving the current administration to remain in power for as long as they can in the knowledge that they are unlikely to return in power. Enjoy it while you can!
The Crusher suggests that the most likely date for a General Election will be Thursday 6th May. This is the day already determined for local government elections - it simply makes economic sense to hold the General Election on the same day although this has not always been the case.
The last day that an election may be held is 3rd June. The 2005 General Election was held on 5th May with Parliament meeting for the first time on 11th May 2005. The last date that a notice may now be issued to call a new Parliament (requiring an election) is 10th May - the election would then be held 3 weeks later on 3rd June.
However, for the election to be this late the current Parliament would have to run to the end of its statutory period and would expire. Parliaments in recent years have not expired and elections have been called before the last date.
For an election to be held on May 6th, the Prime Minister would have to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament some 3 weeks before this date. Notice of the election would thus have to be given around 10th April - one week after the Easter holiday.
Now these dates are not so far away and the short period makes the current legislative programme all the more interesting.
Currently high on the agenda is the Digital Economy Bill with its provisions for restrictions on Peer to Peer file sharing etc. The Bill was in second day of committee stage in the House of Lords yesterday (12th Jan) with a large number of tabled amendments. As expected, many of those have now been withdrawn but there have been further significant additions.
The Bill must progress through committee and then formal reading stages in both Houses of Parliament. That takes times and The Crusher suspects that Parliamentary time will not be sufficiently available to allow passage before Parliament is prorogued and an election is called. If the Bill has not then completed all of its stages then it will fail. The Crusher suspects than an incoming administration will not feel that the Digital Economy Bill will be its first priority - rather that will go to more traditional economy. If the Bill does not pass through Parliament before March it may well be some time before it is brought back.
That may be fortuitous - current amendments tabled by the Secretary of State for Business suggest that technical measures could be applied to all subscribers rather than particular subscibers. That could, if implemented and passed, provide for content filtering for all with specific sites identified by copyright owners. A further amendment provides for discussions and representations between the Secretary of State and rights owners to remain confidential - in order to protect their business interests.
Difficult - and not promoting transparent government. The current developments have seen a number of meetings and representations which have changed the way in which the Bill has been presented leaving a hint of some opacity. If there are to be future changes to the Copyright legislation then the reasons for requiring a change should be transparent and open to all.