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Digital Economy bill set for crunch debate

Deadline-day for controversial plans - including PEGI ratings - as dissolution of Parliament looms

The Digital Economy bill - which includes plans for the PEGI ratings system to be passed into law - is set for a crunch debate in the House of Commons today.

The controversial plans, which include the infamous 'three strikes' rule for pirates and file-sharers, have been labelled by some as a "rush job" - with Labour keen to get the bill through Parliament before it effectively closes its doors on Thursday for the General Election period.

Speaking at last week's ELSPA Question Time event, Conservative shadow minister Ed Vaizey indicated that it was important for the bill to be passed before the election, because - in his eyes - it would difficult for a new Parliament to introduce it afterwards, while Labour MP Tom Watson accused the two main parties of cutting a deal, and branding the actions as shameful.

However, the Liberal Democrats have now stated that they will oppose any attempts to rush the measures into law - meaning that the bill's progress could hinge on this afternoon's debate.

The PEGI ratings system, which was selected by the government last year as the new industry standard, following recommendations made in 2008 by the Byron Review.

But while passing laws takes time, any additional delays to the Digital Economy Bill could push the official adoption of PEGI back even further - despite the threat to the well-being of children having been acknowledged two years ago.

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