Coalition slammed for scrapping Communications Bill consultation

Ministers have decided to scrap the Communications Green Paper, leading to criticisms over a lack of “coherent strategy” from shadow minister Helen Goodman.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport had intended to publish a Green Paper to highlight policy plans ahead of a bill being debated in Parliament.

It had previously been expected that the Green Paper would arrive during spring this year, allowing for a consultation ahead of a White Paper which would form the basis of the proposals.

However, DCMS announced that the Green Paper has now been ditched, and will be replaced with five seminars to discuss a series of proposals.

This will include maximising the value of broadband spectrum, looking at competition in the content market and investing in the television sector, and will inform a White Paper scheduled for early 2013.  A full bill is promised before the end of this parliament.

According to a statement from Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt there is “no need for a complete overhaul” of policy, as he highlighted intentions to place the UK as Europe’s “technology hub”. 

TechEye understands that there was mounting pressure that the Green Paper would be too lightweight, and this may have contributed to the Green Paper being scrapped. 

There has also been speculation that Hunt’s role in the Leveson Inquiry has been a distraction from the Communications Bill.

Shadow Minister Helen Goodman told TechEye that the decision to scrap bill shows a lack of direction for communications policy.

“This is absolutely pathetic,” Goodman said. “It is because they have got no coherent strategy for communications in this country.”

“Jeremy Hunt has not put his mind to it because he has been completely focused watching his back at the Leveson inquiry,” Goodman said.  

Goodman believes that without more comprehensive consultation on the Green Paper, the communications industry will struggle to boost the UK’s economy.

“It is a complete disgrace that he can’t get his act together to put forward a proper Green Paper that will give people – beyond people invited to the seminar – the opportunity to contribute to policy  formation in an area which is vital for the economy, and vital for the quality of our cultural life,” Goodman said.