UPDATED: Controversial Digital Economy Bill enters final phase

Controversial elements of the Digital Economy Bill will face further scrutiny even if the bill is passed before the election, Commons leader Harriet Harman has said.

Part of the bill, which refers to how copyright holders can block access to websites hosting pirated content, will be subject to further consultation.

Several MPs called for the whole bill to be delayed until after the election in a Commons debate this afternoon.

The Tories say "big questions" remain unanswered while the Liberal Democrats are seeking greater scrutiny of some aspects.

Published 06.04.10 (am)

The controversial Digital Economy Bill will get its second reading in Parliament this afternoon as the Government attempts to pass it into law before the general election on May 6th.

Opponents have urged MPs to "give it the debate it deserves" in the Commons, and campaigners have booked newspaper ads today in The Guardian and The Times claiming the Government aims to "fast track it into law before the election".

The bill includes plans to give industry tregulator Ofcom powers to cut off the internet connections of persistent net pirates and introduce measures which could see some websites blocked.

"The Digital Economy Bill has been extensively debated and scrutinised in the House of Lords, with seven days in Committee and three days in Report Stage," a spokesperson for the Department of Business Innovation and Skills told the BBC.

The bill is supported by the trade union-led Creative Coalition Campaign (CCC), but opposed by the Open Rights Group (ORG) and digital campaigners 38 Degrees.

The ORG believes the bill may be pushed through in the so-called "wash-up" period, where outstanding bills are quickly vetted and voted through Parliament usually in the last 48 or 72 hours before a dissolution.

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