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Parliamentary debates cite current public dialogue on drones

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There has been further parliamentary debate on the current public dialogue on drones.

On 8th September 2015, a motion was put to the House of Lords to take note of the Report of the European Union Committee on Civilian Use of Drones in the EU (earlier committee discussions covered in Impact Summaries for December 2014 and February-April 2015). The coverage of the dialogue in the debate on the Lords motion included the following:

•       Lord Giddens (Lab) asked a question about the government's plans for the public dialogue on drone technology, and the form it would take.  He said (col 1360-61) (emphasis added):

"I hope, again, it will recognise that the dialogue will have to be an evolving one. If I am right in my emphases so far as drones are concerned, we ain’t seen nothing yet. We are at the very beginning of their evolution and their integration with the wider digital revolution, which to my mind is probably the greatest transformative force to have global impact within such a short period of time ever in human history ...  it would therefore be a really bad mistake to treat drones just on their own, as an isolated phenomenon. They will be deeply integrated in the evolution of this revolution."

•       Lord Rosser (Lab) asked for more information on the dialogue (col 1380-81) (emphasis added):

"There have also been questions in this House about the regulation of drones. In November last year, the then Government stated in a Written Answer that the Department for Transport was currently developing its policy in respect of civil remotely piloted aircraft systems and intended in 2015 to engage in a public dialogue on issues such as the environmental impact, safety and privacy. No doubt the Minister will update the House on the progress being made with this public dialogue when he responds. I hope that he can be a little more specific than the statement made on this point in the Government’s response to the committee’s report."

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport and Home Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con) responded with the following information about the dialogue (col 1386) (emphasis added):

"My honourable friend and fellow transport Minister, Robert Goodwill, the Minister for Aviation, recently announced in his evidence to the sub-committee that the Government are committed to engaging with the general public to seek views on the use of drones in the UK. This is an important step. As several noble Lords have said, the public must have confidence in this new technology and be aware of how it can potentially impact on their daily lives. My noble friend Lady O’Cathain and the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about public consultation, and I am pleased to be able to say that the Government have engaged a public dialogue specialist, Sciencewise, to hold a series of public dialogue events around the country to better understand the public’s concerns about the use of drones. These events will start in November and are designed to attract a range of people from all walks of life. They will be followed by a specific public consultation on the issue which is scheduled for spring 2016."