COMMONS

Committee schedules its first debates on e-petitions

08 September 2015

The Petitions Committee today made its first decisions relating to petitions, including scheduling two debates.

Petition debates

The Committee decided to schedule a debate in Westminster Hall on the motion “That this House has considered the e-petition relating to contracts and conditions in the NHS” on Monday 14 September at 4.30pm.

The Chair of the Committee, Helen Jones MP, will lead the debate.

The Committee also noted that there was a similar petition with a significant number of signatures hosted on the Change.org site.  The Committee would take steps to inform people who signed that petition about the actions it had taken.

The Committee decided to schedule a debate in Westminster Hall on the motion “That this House has considered the e-petition relating to making the production, sale and use of cannabis legal” on Monday 12 October.

Paul Flynn MP, a member of the Committee, will lead the debate.  

Other decisions on petitions over 100,000

The House of Commons has already had several opportunities to consider this issue. The Prime Minister made a statement on Monday 7 September and was questioned by MPs about it. On Tuesday 8 September there was an emergency debate on the refugee crisis in Europe. It has been announced that there will be a further debate on this subject on Wednesday 9 September.

The petition has been "tagged" on the House of Commons order paper as being relevant to today’s debate.

The Committee decided that, since this issue has already been debated extensively in the House of Commons, the time was not right for another debate on the same issue.

The Committee would take steps to ensure that people who had signed relevant petitions on petition.parliament.uk, as well as people who had signed petitions on other sites, were informed about the debates that were already taking place.

The Committee noted that the request made by the petition was something that the UK Government said it was not able to do under UK and international law.

The Committee agreed that, as this was not something the UK Government could do, it would not take any further action on the petition.

It would still be open to MPs who wanted a debate on this issue to find other opportunities, such as an application to the Backbench Business Committee.

Petitions over 10,000 with a government response

The Committee noted that both the Energy and Climate Change Committee and the Environmental Audit Committee had looked at fracking in the last Parliament.

The Committee agreed to write to draw their attention to the e-petition, to inform their consideration of their future work plans.

The Committee noted that the Youth Select Committee was currently looking into Mental Health and was due to produce a report. The Committee agreed to write to petitioners to tell them about the Youth Select Committee inquiry.  

The Committee noted that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had now published the data on the deaths of claimants of incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance between November 2011 and May 2014, which the petition called for.

The Committee noted that people who had signed the petition had been sent a link to the published statistics.

The Committee agreed that because the statistics had been published, no action would be taken on this petition.

The Committee noted that the issue of the petition was in the Finance Bill which was currently being debated in the House of Commons.

The Committee agreed that it would write to petitioners to explain how they could send their views to the Public Bill Committee if they wished to, and how they could follow debates on the Finance Bill in the House of Commons.

The Committee noted that the Home Affairs Committee had an ongoing inquiry into the issue of the petition, and agreed to write to the Home Affairs Committee to draw its attention to the petition.

The Committee noted that people who had signed the petition had been informed about the Home Affairs Committee inquiry, including how to watch an oral evidence session which took place on Tuesday 8 September.

The Committee agreed to write to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee to draw its attention to the petition. The Petitions Committee will consider this e-petition again, once it receives a response from the Committee, to review whether any further action needs to be taken. 

Further information

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