Petitions Committee

Summary

The Petitions Committee is a parliamentary committee of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Its role is to oversee petitions submitted to Parliament, including both electronically through the UK Parliament petitions website, and traditional paper petitions. The Committee is one of the youngest in the Commons, formed in 2015, and is made up of 11 backbench Members of Parliament.

Procedure

The process for e-petitions differs from the process for paper petitions, which can only be presented to the House of Commons by an MP.[1]

E-petitions can be submitted by British citizens and UK residents to the UK Government and Parliament via the UK Parliament petitions website. Petitions must be about something which Government or Parliament is responsible for, and must ask for a specific action from Parliament or Government.

An e-petition must be signed by the petition creator and five supporters before it will be sent for moderation. Moderation ensures that draft petitions meet the website's standards for publication. Petitions which do not meet the website's standards are rejected. Petitions published on the website are available for members of the public to sign. Petitions remain open for signatures for six months. At the end of six months, petitions are closed and formally reported by the Petitions Committee to Parliament.

All petitions which are published are reviewed by the Petitions Committee. Petitions which reach 10,000 signatures receive a written response from the UK Government. The Committee can schedule debates in the House of Commons' second debating chamber (Westminster Hall), on Monday evenings at 4.30 pm.[2]

When Parliament is dissolved, all open petitions on petition.parliament.uk are closed, and new petitions are not accepted. After a new Petitions Committee is set up by the House of Commons, closed petitions are not reopened.

Petitions which reach 100,000 signatures are considered by the Committee for debate. Petitions may not be put forward for debate if the issue has been debated recently, or is already scheduled for debate in the near future. Most petitions which reach the threshold are debated.

The Petitions Committee may also take other action on published petitions. On 1 March 2016 the Committee published its first report, Funding for research into brain tumours, in response to a petition which had gained over 120,000 signatures.[3]

The Petitions Committee has also taken oral evidence jointly with the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on grouse shooting,[4] with the Health Select Committee on the meningitis B vaccine,[5] and with the Women and Equalities Committee on high heels and workplace dress codes[6] in response to petitions.

Membership

As of March 2020, the members of the committee are as follows:[7]

Member Party Constituency
Catherine McKinnell MP (Chair) Labour Newcastle Upon Tyne North
Elliot Colburn MP Conservative Carshalton and Wallington
Martyn Day MP SNP Linlithgow and East Falkirk
Steve Double MP Conservative St Austell and Newquay
Chris Evans MP Labour Islwyn
Katherine Fletcher MP Conservative South Ribble
Nick Fletcher MP Conservative Don Valley
Mike Hill MP Labour Hartlepool
Tom Hunt MP Conservative Ipswich
Kerry McCarthy MP Labour Bristol East
Theresa Villiers MP Conservative Chipping Barnet

Petitions debated by the Commons

Between July 2015 and July 2016, 264 petitions were referred to the Government, after receiving 10,000 signatures, and received a response. Twenty petitions were scheduled for debates in parliament, generally after reaching 100,000 signatures.[8]

Date Petition title Topic Records of the debate
14/09/2015 To debate a vote of no confidence in Health Secretary the Right Hon Jeremy Hunt (Contracts and conditions in the NHS) Junior doctors
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
12/10/2015 Make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal. Cannabis in the United Kingdom, Legality of cannabis
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
19/10/2015 Stop allowing immigrants into the UK Immigration in the United Kingdom
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
26/10/2015 Make an allowance for up to 2 weeks term time leave from school for holiday English school holidays
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
30/11/2015 Introduce a tax on sugary drinks in the UK to improve our children’s health Sugary drinks tax
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
07/12/2015 Don't kill our bees! Immediately halt the use of Neonicotinoids on crops Bees and toxic chemicals, Neonicotinoids
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
11/01/2016 Keep the NHS Bursary NHS Student Bursary
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
18/01/2016 Block Donald J Trump from UK entry; Don’t ban Trump from the United Kingdom Donald Trump
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
25/01/2016 Scrap plans forcing self-employed & small business to do 4 tax returns yearly Taxation in the United Kingdom
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
01/02/2016 Make fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950's women Pensions in the United Kingdom
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
07/03/2016 Scrap the £35k threshold for non-EU citizens settling in the UK Immigration in the United Kingdom
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
21/03/2016 Jeremy Hunt to resume meaningful contract negotiations with the BMA Junior doctors
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
18/04/2016 Fund more research into brain tumours, the biggest cancer killer of under-40s Brain tumors; cancer research
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
25/04/2016 Give the Meningitis B vaccine to ALL children, not just newborn babies Meningococcal vaccine
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
09/05/2016 Stop Cameron spending British taxpayers' money on Pro-EU Referendum leaflets 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
06/06/2016 Restrict the use of fireworks to reduce stress and fear in animals and pets Fireworks law in the United Kingdom
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
13/06/2016 Stop spending a fixed 0.7 per cent slice of our national wealth on Foreign Aid Department for International Development
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
04/07/2016 Include expressive arts subjects in the EBacc English Baccalaureate
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
11/07/2016 No more school penalty fines and bring back the 10 day authorised absence English school holidays
  • Debate video
  • Hansard
18/07/2016 Stop retrospective changes to the student loans agreement Student loans in the United Kingdom
  • Debate video
  • Hansard

References

  1. ^ "Ask your MP to present a petition". UK Parliament.
  2. ^ See Standing Order No. 10(1)(a). "Weekly decisions". UK Parliament.
  3. ^ HC 554 2015-16. "Funding for research into brain tumours". UK Parliament.
  4. ^ "Grouse shooting joint evidence session". UK Parliament.
  5. ^ "Meningitis B vaccine inquiry". UK Parliament.
  6. ^ "High heels and workplace dress codes inquiry". UK Parliament.
  7. ^ "Membership - Petitions Committee". UK Parliament.
  8. ^ "Petitions Committee marks first year of achievements in new report - News from Parliament". UK Parliament.

External links

  • Petitions Committee