Procedure Committee

Session 2008-09, 8 May 2009

e-Petitions: Call for Government action

The Government should think again about its waning support for a parliamentary e-petitions system and should allow the project to move forward.

The Procedure Committee today publishes a report, regretting the apparent lack of will by the Government to support the development of a robust and effective e-petitions system, as accepted by the Leader of the House last July.  The Government later asked the Committee to reconsider the scheme in order to lower its expense.  Having examined the options, the Committee concludes that a significant reduction in costs cannot be achieved without breaching the fundamental principles that petitions should be part of parliamentary proceedings and that constituency Members should be directly involved in the petitions procedure.

The Chairman of the Committee, Rt Hon Greg Knight MP said:  “Last April we devised a system of e-petitions which offered a simple, effective and transparent way for the public to tell the House and its Members about what matters to them.  The need for security and robustness means that such a system, if it is to be effective, is never going to be a cheap exercise.  We are therefore very disappointed that the Government’s initial enthusiasm for e-petitions appears to have evaporated. We call upon the Government to think again on this issue.” 

The report is published today as the Second Report from the Procedure Committee, e-Petitions: Call for Government Action, HC 493, Session 2008-09.

Copies of the Report may be purchased in The Stationery Office Bookshops or ordered from The Stationery Office by telephone (08457 023474). The Report is also available on the Internet, via the Reports and Publications webpage of the Procedure Committee webpages.

The Committee’s proposals for e-petitions are outlined in its First Report of Session 2007-08, HC 136.