24th June 2014, 4:55pm
Lincoln helps to shape debate on changes to e-petitions system
Lincoln helps to shape debate on changes to e-petitions system A University of Lincoln academic will this week give evidence to a parliamentary select committee to try to improve the Government’s e-petitions system.

Currently, e-petitions must gather 10,000 signatures to get a response from the Government, or 100,000 signatures before they will be considered for debate in the House of Commons.

Successful petitions which have met those thresholds and led to debates have addressed issues including the Hillsborough disaster, badger culling, Sophie’s Choice and female genital mutilation.  

The Procedure Committee inquiry could mean a wider range of responses to petitions might be introduced which are not purely based on signature thresholds, meaning more people who submit a petition would get some form of response from government.

If changes are approved, they could be put in place from the start of the next Parliament. Catherine Bochel, Principal Lecturer in Policy Studies at University of Lincoln will give evidence to the Procedure Committee on 25th June 2014.

She said:  “Petitions are clearly popular with the public, however, the existing e-petitions system is largely a way for members of the public to express their views to politicians, with little or no participation or empowerment. The select committee inquiry is an opportunity to suggest changes to the current system.”

The call for change is being led by Leader of the House of Commons, Andrew Lansley, who wants to establish a collaborative e-petitions system between the Government and Parliament.

The current system has seen more than 10 million individuals sign one or more of the 27,500 e-petitions which have been submitted since it launched in summer 2011. Of those, 145 have reached 10,000 signatures, leading to a formal response from the Government, with 29 petitions obtaining the necessary 100,000 signatures, becoming eligible to be considered for debate.

The possibility of the creation of a Petitions Committee is also due to be discussed by the Procedure Committee. The discussion will take place at 3.15pm on Wednesday 25th June, and will be open to the public. It will also be webcast via www.parliamentlive.tv. A transcript of the evidence session will be posted on the Committee’s website within about a week of the date of the session.
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