COMMONS

E-Petitions and the Backbench Business Committee

This page outlines the process by which issues raised in e-petitions can reach the Backbench Business Committee

In the summer of 2011, the Government introduced a new website for registering e-petitions. The Government announced that any e-petition that reaches 100,000 signatures would be passed to the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee.

E-petitions and the Backbench Business Committee flowchart (PDF PDF 21 KB)

An E-petition gets 100,000 signatures

The Leader of the House writes to the Backbench Business Committee to notify the Committee that an e-petition has 100,000 signatures. This does not guarantee a debate in the Commons, but triggers consideration by the Committee. There are two possibilities:

A backbench MP makes representation in support

A backbench MP makes representation in support of a debate on the subject of the e-petition at the Committee's weekly meeting. These are public and can be watched on Parliament TV.

No MP appears before the Committee

No MP appears before  the Committee to ask for a debate on the e-petition topic

The Committee can only consider an e-petition for a debate if an MP comes to make a case for the subject to be debated. You can contact your own MP to ask them to do this.

The Committee decides whether to allocate a debate on the subject of the e-petition

If a backbench MP makes a representation the Committee decides whether to allocate a debate on the subject of the e-petition. To do this, the Committee will consider:

  • Topicality, -Why holding a debate is important
  • the number of MPs who are likely to take part
  • Whether a debate has already been held or is likely to be arranged through other routes.

The Committee decides that the subject of the e-petition should be debated

If the Committee agrees the subject of the e-petition should be debated, and if  backbench time is available, then the Committee will schedule a debate and  publish the date and details on its website.

If the Government has not allocated any days to the Committee, the Committee will reconsider the case for a debate on the e-petition once more time for debate has been allocated by Government

Or

The Committee decides that the subject of the e-petition is not suitable for debate as it does not meet the criteria

The Committee may consider alternative subjects brought forward in other Member representations to be of a higher priority for debate. These debates may be considered more topical, important, or demonstrating more interest from across the House.  Alternatively, the Committee may regard the e-petition to have already have received a response by an alternative route, for example, in the form of a response to written question, Ministerial Statement, or other government response.

The debate goes ahead 

Debates can be watched on on Parliament TV. The text of debates is available in Hansard. A full list of previous backbench debates can be found here:

Or 

Members make further representation to the Committee for a debate

MPs are free to make further representations at later meetings of Committee to argue the case for the subject of the e-petition to be debated. 

Image: iStockphoto