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Mandybill enters pre-election wash-up

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Both sides of the Digital Economy Bill debate made what could be their final pitch to MPs in newspaper adverts today, as the legislation enters the Parliamentary "wash-up" ahead of the election.

The Bill is due to receive its second reading in the Commons at 3.30pm. During the wash-up, set to take place over the next few days, the parties generally push through uncontroversial Bills quickly before returning to their constituencies for campaigning.

Opponents of the Digital Economy Bill are arguing it is highly controversial, and has not been sufficiently debated by MPs. The Open Rights Group has issued dire warnings about the death of public Wi-Fi hotspots, human rights and democracy.

The group has taken out full-page adverts in the Times and the Guardian urging MPs to block the Bill's inclusion in the wash-up.

Meanwhile the Creative Coalition Campaign, a group of rights holder organisations and trade unions, took out an ad in the Guardian claiming internet piracy threatens jobs and pressing MPs to act.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills, which has been responsible for the legislation's tortuous development over the last three years, told the BBC it had been extensively debated in the Lords. It said debate would continue up to this afternoon's second Commons reading.

If no election was imminent, the Bill would be subject to Commons committee and report stages, as well as a third reading in the House. ®

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