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e-Petitions

Published Tuesday, October 20, 2015

This note looks at the background to the introduction of a new joint petitions system and a new Petitions Committee

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The House of Commons debated proposals for a collaborative system of e-petitions on 24 February 2015. The House agreed to proposals contained in the Procedure Committee’s report, E-petitions: a collaborative system, designed to bring together the Government’s e-petitions website, administered by the Office of the Leader of the House, and the House of Commons paper petitions system onto one platform.

The new collaborative system is overseen by a new Petitions Committee. The joint e-petitions website went live on 20 July 2015.

The Government’s e-petitions website was re-launched on 4 August 2011 in response to recommendations made at the end of the 2005 Parliament by the Select Committee on the Reform of the House of Commons (the Wright Committee) to “make the Commons matter more, increase its vitality and rebalance its relationship with the executive, and to give the public a greater voice in parliamentary proceedings.”

The Coalition Government committed to ensuring that petitions securing 100,000 signatures would be eligible for debate in the House of Commons. Time for debating e-petitions was to come from the 35 days allocated to the newly created Backbench Business Committee if a Member was willing to sponsor the petition.

In January 2012, the Procedure Committee reported on e-petitions. It welcomed the Government’s initiative in principle but noted some practical problems over debating e-petitions and in relation to public understanding. Its recommendation that the Backbench Business Committee should be able to arrange debates on e-petitions in Westminster Hall on Mondays was agreed by the House on an experimental basis in July 2012 and extended until the end of the current Parliament in July 2013.

Commons Briefing papers SN06450

Authors: Richard Kelly; Sarah Priddy

Topics: House of Commons, Parliament

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