Web links: Chapter 30
Information about petitions to Parliament
Parliament has two main types of petitions: public (paper) petitions and e-petitions.
Public petitions have existed for centuries and are submitted mainly through MPs, though they can also be submitted through Lords.
e-Petitions to Parliament have existed since 2015 (previous e-petitions systems were government-led rather than parliament). E-petitions can be submitted directly by the public and are sent online through its respective website. This is a new collaborative system between government and parliament. This explains in detail how e-petitions work.
All e-petitions that get 10,000 signatures or more receive a response from government. You can see a list here of those that have received a response from government. All e-petitions that get 100,000 signatures or more are considered by the House of Commons’ Petitions Committee for a debate. You can see a list here of those petitions debated in parliament. The petitioning system is led and supported by the Petitions Committee.
Each e-petition submitted has its own webpage, where any follow-up actions are listed. See, for example, the petition on making mental health education compulsory in primary and secondary schools.
The consideration of e-petitions
Besides a response from government and a debate, petitions can lead to other actions such as collating evidence from the public, requesting more information from government or indeed running an inquiry. Here are a few examples:
See the first inquiry done by the Petitions Committee, to consider a petition calling for more funding for brain tumour research;
Watch the oral evidence session held jointly with the Transport Committee about a petition asking for a cap on young people’s car insurance;
Read the report, written jointly with the Women and Equalities Committee, on the petition about high heels and workplace dress codes.
See the correspondence between the Chair of the Petitions Committee and the Home Office, regarding a petition asking to lower minimum earnings threshold when applying for settlement;
See the web forum on the petition asking for retail trade being closed on Boxing day;
See the digital debate, led by a Petitions Committee MP, Steven Double, and the Chair of the International Development Committee, Stephen Twigg, on the petition about UK foreign aid spending;
Finally, watch a couple of the debates held on petitions – on very different topics and embedding very different types of debate: the petition on Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK and the one calling for an April’s Law.