Commons epetitions set 100k target

MPs could debate petitions which get over 100,000 signatures
MPs could debate petitions which get over 100,000 signatures

By Alex Stevenson

Members of the public will be able to get issues of their choosing debated on the floor of the Commons - if they can find 99,999 people to agree with them.

A new website launched today gives campaigners 12 months to come up with six-figure support for their epetition. Those which are successful could be chosen to be debated by MPs.

The step, introduced by the coalition to make parliament more accessible, was hailed as giving the public a "megaphone" by leader of the House Sir George Young.


"In recent weeks, parliament has been at the centre of public interest, by leading the debate on phone-hacking allegations," he said.

"But this shouldn't mean that parliament becomes complacent. There's much more that we can do to build confidence in the work of the House of Commons and we should continue to find new ways of encouraging people to engage."

It is far from clear whether the 100,000 target is achievable. The most popular petition on No 10's epetitions page, which simply called for then prime minister Gordon Brown to resign, received 72,000 signatures.

Sir George added: "Of course, parliamentary time is not unlimited and we want the best e-petitions to be given airtime - so we will monitor the site closely over the coming months to assess whether the 100,000 figure is an appropriate target."

The move was warmly welcomed by the Hansard Society's director of digital democracy, Andy Williamson.

"The value of the proposed system is that it contains an underlying process which guarantees an authentic and considered response to the concerns raised in the petition in contrast to the now defunct Downing Street venture which offered no parliamentary response," he said.

Petitions which are libellous or offensive, not directly a matter for government, about honours and appointments or the same as an existing petition will be deemed ineligible under the system's rules.

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