Bill targeting illegal file-sharing to become law

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Indy Politics

The Government's controversial plans to clamp down on illegal file-sharing are set to become law after peers today agreed changes made in the Commons.

Liberal Democrats forced a vote in a bid to keep out a section of the Bill that would allow the Government to make regulations to enable courts to block a "location on the internet" involved in infringing copyright.

But peers defeated the move by 124 votes to 32 (majority 92) and the Bill has now been sent for Royal Assent.

Lord Clement-Jones, for Lib Dems, accused the Government of "abjectly bowing to the Conservative front bench" over changes made to the Bill as it was rushed through the Commons in the so-called "wash-up" period last night.

Amendments that succeeded in the Commons included removing measures opposed by the Tory front bench which would have allowed regional news consortia to provide programmes for ITV in the regions and nations of the UK.

Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Fowler, chairman of the Communications Select Committee, said the loss of the provision was a "very regrettable step".

He added: "We are allowing a position to take place where regional news in this country becomes a BBC monopoly and I do not think that is in the public interest."

Leading critics of the Bill in the Commons included Labour former digital engagement minister Tom Watson, who said earlier this week that 20,000 people had emailed MPs to say they were "extremely upset" about the lack of scrutiny being given to it.

But Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw insisted the Bill was necessary to protect and encourage the creative industries in Britain and was supported by thousands of workers in those fields.

He said that hundreds of millions of pounds were "haemorrhaging from our creative industries because of unlawful file-sharing".