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Will online petitions help improve laws?

09:25 UK time, Tuesday, 28 December 2010

A plan to allow popular online petitions to be debated in Parliament within a year has been given the go ahead by the government. Should online petitions be given parliamentary time?

Ministers will seek agreement with the authorities, including the House of Commons Procedure Committee, to give the petitions parliamentary time.

Petitions receiving most support - probably over 100,000 signatures - would be debated, with some possibly becoming bills.

But Labour said the plans would mean "crazy ideas" being discussed by MPs.

Is it important to debate online petitions in Parliament? How else could laws be improved? Do you agree with Labour - would MPs end up debating "crazy ideas"? Will the plan improve our laws?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    It will make no difference at all. It will function like the Labour version at No.10 before it. People will contribute to be ignored or fed platitudes. The expense we don't need will all be justified by We are in this together, peoples choice, Big Society etc..Must have missed loads of the sound bite now you all feel good way Government works these days.

  • Comment number 2.

    "Labour said the plans would mean "crazy ideas" being discussed by MPs."

    Well Labour should know as they are the experts on crazy ideas and mismanaging the economy.

  • Comment number 3.

    I just want one petition which is

    "Manifesto pledges MUST be honored, if not a referendum MUST be called and if the referendum is lost then a general election must be called. The rule applies to all parties in power even if sharing power.”

    For the last few parliaments years too many so called pledges have been ignored once the pledging party got into power.

  • Comment number 4.

    If used sensibly then such petitions may get the electorate's voice heard in parliament and may be the means to make a start creating a democracy.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Labour said the plans would mean "crazy ideas" being discussed by MPs."

    What, because that doesn't happen already? I don't see how this idea can hurt; if 100,000 people sign a petition to have a dicussion it probably deserves to take place. A lot of things that ordinary people think are important never get much time in parliament, this may help address that balance.

  • Comment number 6.

    It would be a good idea, were there any requirement for our hirelings in government to actually pay attention to what is proposed by their employers!

  • Comment number 7.

    On the face of it it does sound like quite a reasonable idea.
    What concerns me most is that MP's might need a petition put in front of them before they know the views of the country.
    Did they not recently have an election and did not all the candidates go door to door and stand in the high street canvassing peoples views?
    Why do they now need a petition to know what people think on any given subject?

    On second thoughts, yes it does all make sense. When they were canvassing they needed to know your views in order to promise to do what you wanted. Obviously, now they are elected your views are but a long forgotten irellevant memory, much the same as the manifesto.

  • Comment number 8.

    No as the list will be screened for political correctness and sanitised by the liberal establishment. The views of the silent majority will continue to be ignored. I could list many issues concerning immigration, Islamic extremism, our benefit dependent society, capital punishment , excessive state interference in the life of the individual and numerous others but these would be moderated out so as not to offend somebody or other.

  • Comment number 9.

    A sop to the likes of us who populate the blogisphere. It's yet another government PR stunt. A few debates in Westminster Hall will NOT placate the voters. If anything it will increase their contempt for politicians and political parties as they see what our elected representitives really think of the voters ideas and beliefs.

  • Comment number 10.

    Will they debate getting us out of Europe ? Maybe, but they won't do anything. Will they debate stopping immigration ? Maybe, but they won't do anything. The whole idea is stupid and meaningless; they can have debates till they are blue in the face but they will not implement the desires of the electorate if it is not what they themselves , or their party wants. If the petition was seen as the undeniable wish of the people to have the law changed, without the needless talking shops then bring it on. I fear it will never happen because the politicians always assume that they know best.

  • Comment number 11.

    This is basically a good idea as it will make MPs listen and take heed of the electorate.
    However, we may have some 'crazy' petitions reaching the threshold but I am sure that Parliament will find a means to minimise the debate!!

  • Comment number 12.

    Didn't we have something similar under the last administration - Petition website direct to No.10. Some of those (Inheritance Tax springs to mind) had huge numbers of people signing-up

    As with that effort, I expect anything that the political elite don't like will simply be ignored - Again!

  • Comment number 13.

    Either the issues raised will be 'big ticket' items that our elected representatives really ought to know need addressing or they will be more minor issues that should be dealt with locally (in line with the 'small government', local accountability mantra of the coalition). 100,000 people is about 0.15% of the population so the threshold seems a bit low

    Main concerns would be the integrity of the system and the legitimacy of the numbers petitioning (too easy to vote on-line without real commitment)

  • Comment number 14.

    Of course it won't make a bit of difference they'll tell you anything they think you want to hear in order to stay in power which is what everything they do is about POWER and WEALTH generation for themselves.

  • Comment number 15.

    It might make the 'Government' actually take notice of what the public really think. Unless of course this is another joke by the ConDems.

    They havn't been funny so far so let's not hold out any hope for a laugh.

  • Comment number 16.

    This idea is just a gimmick. It is for our constituency MP to represent us in Parliament, and at times act as a filter for all those crazy ideas that could now go online. One of the core functions of a constituency MP is being by-passed by this proposal. Our Parliamentary procedures and processes, evolved over a long period, are there for a reason. Government by focus group was introduced in the disastrous Blair era. This proposal is another step in that direction. The reason we have so much bad law nowadays is that much of it is ill-considered, hurried, populous and gimmicky. We should introduce a rule that whenever a new law is introduced an old law has to be removed from the statute book. Too much law and too little common sense justice very much applies in the UK these days.

  • Comment number 17.

    ......This would be more closely moderated, with petitions checked closely for "eligibility". - BBC story

    What this actually means is that someone will be checking to see whether the subjects fit in with the agenda of parliament and anything contentious will be filtered out.
    My guess is that if you took a straw poll today to establish what most people would like debated the most popular would be -
    'Should MP's be charged with criminal offences regarding their bogus expenses?'
    'Should Blair, Brown etc be charged as war criminals?'
    'Should Britain remove itself from the EU?'
    'Should the Barnett Formula be scrapped to return everyone to a level playing field?'

    These are just 4 that instantly spring to mind - I'm sure there are many others which many many people feel strongly about.
    The one thing they all have in common is that they are never going to be discussed in a sensible manner in parliament regardless of how many people would like them to be.


    Going slightly off at a tangent - does anyone else see the irony of this question be asked on BBC Have Your Say when so many people have commented recently on the triviality of the subjects up for debated on this very site?

  • Comment number 18.

    'Labour said the plans would mean "crazy ideas" being discussed by MPs'

    This is because the public are completely stupid, is it? I assume that's what is meant; that the public have no idea how the world works so they shouldn't interfere with things they don't understand. Or get any impression that they have a say in things. Because they're too stupid for their own good. Right?

  • Comment number 19.

    Waste of money, we have had riots and big protests about student fees, if these dont work how will online petitions work, get on with real life rather than pasting public funds on rubbish

  • Comment number 20.

    "Will on-line petitions help 'improve' laws"? is the HYS question.

    Although this 'project' is only in it's embryonic stage - it sounds like a progressive attempt to engage the electorate.

    What a pity that Labour are sniping at this. Too many lemon slices in their gin and tonics during their tax-payer paid Christmas holiday, no doubt?

    It's certainly worth a go - but it must be organised and administered/staffed sufficiently. Also, via a professionally designed and efficient site.

  • Comment number 21.

    This is an exercise of hot air, whatever Government is in power nothing will change, Governments are reactive NOT proactive, all legislation is a "knee jerk" reaction to events and we are stuck forever with laws that have no relevance to reality. Recent laws with "knee jerk" reaction to the internet are hideous and poorly thought out and again bear no relevance to the real world, the "Digital Economy Act 2010" although not commenced is a typical example, the amendment to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which labels someone a paedophile, sex offender and who can be jailed for up to 10 years for viewing or possessing a "Page3" image of a 16 or 17 year old is a typical knee jerk reaction to the Web, a cosmetic move rather than legislation based on firm evidence, that has such draconian ramifications for Society, a Society where the Age Of Consent is 16 years, hypocrasy of prime example. The Policing And Crime Act 2010, the section relating to prostitution where "Latin Law" is introduced to mainstream UK legislation by prosecuting the (non existent) user of a prostitute who has been forced or coerced, a Summary Offence with no defence, another knee jerk reaction to sex trafficking, a move which has no relevance to trafficking whether sexual or not, the word "trafficking" is nowhere to be seen in the wording of the Act. The time and effort would have been better spent bringing in a framework of legislation that gives "working girls" a safe environment to operate, with legal Brothels, the Governemnt learned nothing from the Ipswich murders. Governments introduce their pet schemes whether benficial or not to Society without thought to the long effects to those who are caught up and prosecuted for what are really non offences that are no detriment to Society. Don't bother with this it is a smoke screen and will not see the light of day. Whatever Government the agenda is to dismantle bit bit the Welfare State and bring in such tight controls with flimsy exxcuses, bannishing freedoms we have enjoyed for generations, censorship will be the order of the day with the lame excuse it protects children. Enjoy your freedom to read Page 3 of the Sun because even that will be censored, this country will be taken back to dark days of the Lord Chamberlain, whatever anyone writes on the Govenments sham E-petition site.

  • Comment number 22.

    from my experience of the No. 10 petition site and various "consultations" it will make no difference whatsoever.

    Our masters will continue to ignore public opinion as in the past.

  • Comment number 23.

    21. At 10:44am on 28 Dec 2010, jack wrote:
    This is an exercise of hot air, whatever Government is in power nothing will change, Governments are reactive NOT proactive, all legislation is a "knee jerk" reaction to events and we are stuck forever with laws that have no relevance to reality. Recent laws with "knee jerk" reaction to the internet are hideous and poorly thought out and again bear no relevance to the real world, the "Digital Economy Act 2010" although not commenced is a typical example, the amendment to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which labels someone a paedophile, sex offender and who can be jailed for up to 10 years for viewing or possessing a "Page3" image of a 16 or 17 year old is a typical knee jerk reaction to the Web, a cosmetic move rather than legislation based on firm evidence, that has such draconian ramifications for Society, a Society where the Age Of Consent is 16 years, hypocrasy of prime example. The Policing And Crime Act 2010, the section relating to prostitution where "Latin Law" is introduced to mainstream UK legislation by prosecuting the (non existent) user of a prostitute who has been forced or coerced, a Summary Offence with no defence, another knee jerk reaction to sex trafficking, a move which has no relevance to trafficking whether sexual or not, the word "trafficking" is nowhere to be seen in the wording of the Act. The time and effort would have been better spent bringing in a framework of legislation that gives "working girls" a safe environment to operate, with legal Brothels, the Governemnt learned nothing from the Ipswich murders. Governments introduce their pet schemes whether benficial or not to Society without thought to the long effects to those who are caught up and prosecuted for what are really non offences that are no detriment to Society. Don't bother with this it is a smoke screen and will not see the light of day. Whatever Government the agenda is to dismantle bit bit the Welfare State and bring in such tight controls with flimsy exxcuses, bannishing freedoms we have enjoyed for generations, censorship will be the order of the day with the lame excuse it protects children. Enjoy your freedom to read Page 3 of the Sun because even that will be censored, this country will be taken back to dark days of the Lord Chamberlain, whatever anyone writes on the Govenments sham E-petition site.
    =====================================================
    I'll put you down as a 'no' then?

  • Comment number 24.

    What's the point ? MP's ignore the wishes of the electorate at present and even renege on their promises as well. If it would do any good I would be all for it, however I suspect it will merely be used as another opportunity by politicians to ignore the electorate.

  • Comment number 25.

    Popular? According to who? They will allow petitions to satisfy general public but do nothing. Will there ever be ever people power and more freedom? Hardly. How about if, one day, everyone vote yes on the most popular issues like bring back death penalty, rights to possess a gun, or leave EU forever? Do you really think the parliament will bow to the will of the general public?

  • Comment number 26.

    YES !! Online petitions DO influence Politics ...Some political Party WILL pick up on popular petitions .. Popular petitions will deter Governments from doing the opposite therefore keeping the status Quo.
    Is it not the case that Gordon Brown's Credibility was damaged by the huge vote on the No.10 petition site for him to resign!

    That petition might have even stopped a Lib-Labour coalition..

    I'm all for it . At least it will by a vehicle to let the majority to have their say . It might even bring ,the many faceless bureaucrats both in central and local government public section , to account.

  • Comment number 27.

    This might actually work if - in addition to submitting petitions - there was a facility on every petition being submitted that allowed people to veto the proposal being made.

    As an example, activists for the re-introduction of the death penalty might have to contend with people signing up on the same webpage to say "No: actually, I disagree with this proposal and I don't want this re-introduced". We then might see how representative of vox pop a suggestion actually was.

    ... or is that too democratic? We are, after all, used to activist minorities in and out of Parliament who are "for this" or "against that" vociferously leading us by the nose ...

  • Comment number 28.

    "Labour said the plans would mean "crazy ideas" being discussed by MPs"

    Which is what you would expect Labour to say; being Social Democrats they despise the individuals who make up society and hate democracy believing that, left to their own devices, the people have "crazy ideas". They really do believe we need them (the political elite - a wonderful oxymoron, there being nothing elite about politicians) to protect us from ourselves. At least this time they have accidentally shown their contempt for the electorate.

    If the electorate agree with the ruling party, that is democracy, when the electorate disagree, that is populism.

  • Comment number 29.

    Spot the none story of the day!
    No British government ever listens to the masses otherwise we would still have capital punishment, we would still have fox hunting, and we would have had a referendum on the Common Market in the past year.

    Pure logic or the opinion of the man in the street does not make for effective government. For instance, logically the only way you can find out exactly who is in your country so as to be effectively manage resources is to count the population. This means that you either a) have identity cards, or b) the ten yearly census is mandatory in law, (non compliance to be automatically punishable). However, the red top brigade, immediately scream 'infringments of human rights' at the thought of any official information gathering.
    We were all conned by the so called anti-pol tax PR, giving us the situation where it was said that the majority of the population didn't want it. Thus we have a situatioin where a man runs a car washing business from his home and uses domestic water and is billed the same as the OAP next door who uses hardly any water by comparison.

    No, I think the Lib Dem aspect of this Govt' though idealistic is naive if it thinks the British public will accept this twaddle.

  • Comment number 30.

    Regrettably, online petitions are likely to achieve very little beyond providing a mouthpiece for extremists and the mindless.

    Electronic submissions, as evidenced by so many on this website, are too convenient and undemanding, resulting in a host of irrelevant opinions by people with nothing better to do than grouse. Ask the same people to put their views down on paper, pop it into an envelope and post it, and they won't bother to express them at all.

    Those who believe this proposal is just another government sop are the kind of negative-thinking cynics this country can do well without. The only way to bring about change is to make reasoned argument and, once submissions on those lines have been weeded out from the dross, there is a real prospect of a listening government.

  • Comment number 31.

    Radio 4 tried this a while ago.It had a tame MP who would try to take a Private Members Bill through Parliament based on a vote amongst Radio 4 listeners who could choose the subject matter of the Bill.
    Perhaps unsurprisingly,the vast majority of listeners wanted the death penalty brought back.Auntie had a wobbly and the whole idea was buried.
    This latest gimmick will go the same way.Anyway,lets us give it a try? What say you all that we get rid of the Human Rights Act?

  • Comment number 32.

    "7. At 10:19am on 28 Dec 2010, devilzadvacate1 wrote:

    On the face of it it does sound like quite a reasonable idea.
    What concerns me most is that MP's might need a petition put in front of them before they know the views of the country.
    Did they not recently have an election and did not all the candidates go door to door and stand in the high street canvassing peoples views? "

    Not where I live they didn't. We received a few leaflets through the door, the usual waffle, of course: "If elected I pledge to work towards this, I will strive to do that, I will seek to deal with the other, blah, blah" but not once did I receive a visit from any candidate, not once did I see a candidate at a public meeting, not one candidate sought my views on anything.

    Of course, you can see why they would not bother - Labour would win here if they put up a stuffed gorilla, so why bother when the electorate vote tribally rather than intelligently?

  • Comment number 33.

    Any attempt to increase the opportunities for us the electorate to have a significant say in the running of the country is to be welcomed. How effective it is or how opened it may be to perversion by deviant or fanatical interest groups remains to be seen. As 'kaybraes', above, wrote, a petition would have to carry the power of the public voice over that of the politicians if it is to be effective. Our opinions of politicians and their motives is at a rather low point nowadays.

    There are many issues which in my view should be subject to public debate and decision making which currently are not. I would include for example, the regrettable recent sale of Cadburys and Murdoch's current attempt to take over B Sky B. Both are issues which either have already or could in the future, have a deleterious effect on the quality of the lives of our people.

    Modern communications technology already gives us the mechanisms for greater public participation in decision-making. There was much debate before and during the last election about reforms of the electoral system. It seems that all parties, including the Labour Party, prefer in their hearts the status quo. This is the 21st century, not a Georgian era of wigs and ridiculous ceremonies, costumes archaic language and posturing. If our political parties are not to become increasingly irrelevant, they have to recognise the dramatically changing nature of our world and the consequent need for real, dramatic reform.

  • Comment number 34.

    You will fail to hear the craziest idea through a petition or elsewhere, simply because law doesnt work that way.

  • Comment number 35.

    It will not be the public that decides these debates, but the press. They stirred up public feeling to create the dangerous dogs act, which bans dogs that are safe and allows dogs that are dangerous. There are numerous other examples. The rpess have too much power as it is, please don't add to it.

  • Comment number 36.

    "25. At 10:57am on 28 Dec 2010, chirojupiter wrote:

    Popular? According to who? They will allow petitions to satisfy general public but do nothing. Will there ever be ever people power and more freedom? Hardly. How about if, one day, everyone vote yes on the most popular issues like bring back death penalty, rights to possess a gun, or leave EU forever? Do you really think the parliament will bow to the will of the general public?"

    Can we please leave the wretched death penalty out of it. As long as we are members of the EU, we are NOT ALLOWED to have the death penalty. There is nothing to discuss, no point in petitioning for it, the EU will not allow it, regardless of the views, alleged or actual, of the populace. End of discussion.

  • Comment number 37.

    There is a common misconception in the ranks of those who draw up and take part in petitions - namely, how many signatures really represent the will of the majority.
    Example:
    If I was a twisted enough individual (I'm not!) I could get 3000 people to sign a petition in favour of re-introducing the cane to schools. They're out there - you know they are. 3000 people sounds like a lot - until you consider how many people actually live in Britain.

    If the idea of putting petitions before Parliament is to be introduced, there have to be restrictions, otherwise they will become utterly swamped in - as has been said - crazy ideas.

    I'd propose the following limits, at least, as a start:
    1. Electronic petition signatures must be easily verifiable. Right now, it is too easy for one individual to submit several thousand signatures, posing as other people.

    2. In order to appear before Parliament, a petition must have a minimum number of signatures. I'd suggest at least a quarter of the current voting population. If matters are truly important to those who suggest them, they can worry about publicity for their cause.

    3. Control the creation of petitions. What is more effective - one petition per topic, with several thousand signatures, or several thousand petitions, each with one or two signatures? If we are talking about documents which could affect the law-making decisions of this country, deal with them in a professional manner. Apply to create a petition. Be told if one already exists, and directed towards it. Of course, this introduces red tape, which sadly creates jobs, which sadly puts a cost on this idea...

    I'm sure others will see more pitfalls. It's not a bad idea - but there is the potential for it to become a complete and utter pig's ear. Take precautions, and it could work.

  • Comment number 38.

    I believe on line petition embraces views of larger number of people and engages those section of the public who have stopped themselves from engaging with active politics. It ought to be made manadatory for an all party to consider if a certain number of people have signed for it - say 100 or 200!!

  • Comment number 39.

    It will make not one iota of difference. Anything they don't want to do will just be ignored, or the wording of the poll 'adjsuted' so the desired (as they see it) outcome is what they want. My bank does this - surveys never have the option to tell them their 'service' stinks so they can always claim customers are satisfied. The government, of any flavour, is solely interested in getting elected, not what is desired by the population as a whole. Policy being set by trendy issues is not what good government is about.

  • Comment number 40.

    I can't help but feel this is another half assed attempt by the government to fool the people in to believing that we actually have any influence over what our representatives in government debate & discuss. I saw how the previous government responded to the online petitions with glib platitudes & politically correct nonsense without addressing the, sometimes, quite legitimate concerns of the petition maker. I don't believe that this government will listen to opinion that is different from their own ideologies, even if it is in the best interests of the whole country.

  • Comment number 41.

    31. At 11:06am on 28 Dec 2010, cyprus-hound wrote:
    Anyway,lets us give it a try? What say you all that we get rid of the Human Rights Act?
    ===========================================
    Seconded

  • Comment number 42.

    "16. At 10:35am on 28 Dec 2010, Alasdair Campbell wrote:

    This idea is just a gimmick. It is for our constituency MP to represent us in Parliament, and at times act as a filter for all those crazy ideas that could now go online. One of the core functions of a constituency MP is being by-passed by this proposal. Our Parliamentary procedures and processes, evolved over a long period, are there for a reason."

    Indeed they are. They are there so that over 600 people, mainly without any experience of real life, can live in luxury while telling the rest of us - indeed, forcing the rest of us - to live as they dictate.

    "Government by focus group was introduced in the disastrous Blair era. This proposal is another step in that direction. The reason we have so much bad law nowadays is that much of it is ill-considered, hurried, populous and gimmicky. We should introduce a rule that whenever a new law is introduced an old law has to be removed from the statute book. Too much law and too little common sense justice very much applies in the UK these days."

    Could not agree more, except that I would make it ten old laws having to be removed. We are sinking under a mass of legislation, have been for years, and the true reason is so that the legal profession can make money hand over fist interpreting all this rubbish. If most of it were removed overnight most people's lives would be improved, except, of course, for the lawyers.

  • Comment number 43.

    There will, undoubtedly, be plenty of "crazy ideas" which are either impossible to implement or represent the wishes of a tiny minority. These will be easy to weed out. There will remain a number of perfectly feasible ideas which command a significant level of popular support but which no politician will have the courage to implement. There have been periods in the quite recent past when a majority of the population wanted to see the return of capital punishment and I suspect it would not be too difficult to build up a majority in favour of leaving the EU.

    This is a fine idea, but meaningless unless parliament agrees to enact the wishes of the population - something which all three major parties are often terrified to consider. There's lots to be said for rule by referendum and dictatorship has its benefits in terms of stability and long-term planning. Representative democracy fails in most respects but makes it easier to sleep at night.

  • Comment number 44.

    Not one jot. What it will do is demonstrate once and for all that our democracy isn’t one with, like wealth, power being held by a small minority of people.

    It would be just like it is now in that an MP’s constituents believe one thing but the MP will vote the party line, that’s the way of our democracy.

    Like littletenter has already pointed out it is just a political ploy to make you feel all part of the big society.

    If they really wanted to give people power and a true say in the running of their country then with the Internet why can’t we have on line debates and referendums on key strategic long-term issues?

  • Comment number 45.

    Many years ago whilst a group of people were collecting signatures for an Anti Hunting Petition, I rewrote the petition heading so that it read in favour of Hunting. As so few people actually read petitions I was quickly able to collect a page full of signatures, from people from the same group as were signing the anti pages!
    My point is that whatever petitions are debated by Parliament there must be very careful review of the way in which the petition is collected and monitored.
    My bet is that the idea is a non starter.

  • Comment number 46.

    On the face of it, it seems a great idea. The previous Government ignored the online petition system, and therefore it was pointless. The proposal at least gives people from a wide political spectrum access to Government first-hand. To elucidate: An MP represents constituents. However that MP can pick-and-choose which "causes" it takes up. If the cause isn't in the interests of that MPs party, they will ignore it, so Government will never hear about it. The petition system will, presumably, be read and acted upon by independent(ish) civil servants who will put forward the common-interest petitions with a view to them being discussed. As long as there is an all-party committee to discuss them initially they should, in theory, be put forward for Parliamentary debate.

  • Comment number 47.

    Yet more dumbing down of an already-debased society, to appease the ill-educated graduate population, a media so entrenched in mediocrity it is now laughable, an electorate totally unable to think for themselves and a government concerned solely with the welfare of the rich and their own members

  • Comment number 48.

    All this measure will do is highlight just how reactionary the majority of British people are. If the nature of comments on this site are anything to go by, expect these to be the first few laws to be debated: (1) bringing back capital punishment; (2) leaving the EU; (3) a ban on immigration from "the wrong sort of country"; and (4) bringing back national service.

    These will probably be closely followed by: (5) banning speed cameras; (6) removing the ban on smoking in public places; and (7) Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister.

    There will be perfectly valid, rational causes that deserve to be debated, but unfortunately they will get drowned out by the not-so-silent Daily Mail tendency.

  • Comment number 49.

    The only things that would get through are things the government of the day would like to do but needed someone else to take the blame for.
    You'd also get the ultra right from here creating petitions for things which breach international law, like making torture legal, banning mosques or deporting all welsh people from England, which could never be passed but would still waste parlimentary time being discussed because they got the required number of votes. Unless regulated it would become a charter not for getting things done but for wrecking parliamentry business by time wasting having said that subject to sensible control why not?

  • Comment number 50.

    They ignore us now – these leaders of this so-called democracy; what shred of evidence is there that they will stop ignoring us with on-line petitions?

  • Comment number 51.

    20. At 10:39am on 28 Dec 2010, corum-populo-2010 wrote:
    "Will on-line petitions help 'improve' laws"? is the HYS question.

    Although this 'project' is only in it's embryonic stage - it sounds like a progressive attempt to engage the electorate.

    What a pity that Labour are sniping at this. Too many lemon slices in their gin and tonics during their tax-payer paid Christmas holiday, no doubt?

    It's certainly worth a go - but it must be organised and administered/staffed sufficiently. Also, via a professionally designed and efficient site.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    It's nice to find someone on this site with a positive view.
    Recommend!

    Why are most posters, on most debates, so blinkered and narrow-minded that they immediately dismiss anything as a gimmick or having an ulterior motive? Stop looking back at what has heppened before - start looking forward, it may actually be light at the end of the tunnel!

  • Comment number 52.

    "48. At 11:25am on 28 Dec 2010, Make the bankers pay wrote:

    All this measure will do is highlight just how reactionary the majority of British people are."

    If it is true that the MAJORITY of British people are reactionary (and it may well be far from true) then in a democracy their views should prevail because they are the majority.

    Your comment underlines the dangers of labelling people who happen not to share your views; and of assuming that such people, even if they are indeed a majority, are somehow "wrong."

    That is not democracy, it is dictatorship.

    If you do not accept the majority view on any subject, you are at liberty to campaign against it. You do not have the right to dismiss it because, in your view, it is reactionary, however you choose to define reactionary.

  • Comment number 53.

    I try not be overly cynical, but this seems like a device to distract parliament from scutiny of the executive. Any issue felt by a large enough pressure group to get 100K signature (a) might still be seen as loony by more than 99% of us and (b) will be something that MPs are well aware of already.

  • Comment number 54.

    Petitions to be debated in Parliament...

    Yes could be a very good step forwards, if handled correctly, MP's could at last be seen to work for their constituents in any debate.

    It might help end some of the corruption in politics where MP's are prevented from representing their constituents by the party whip.

    Importantly the "playpen feuds" we see much of the time might reduce because MP's on all sides would want to be seen to be sensible.

  • Comment number 55.

    Will online petitions help improve laws?

    So the government admit once again that they completely have no idea how to run the country. It's a patronising gimmick that just won't work and will waste valuable time by dicussing stupid propositions when they could be doing something worthwhile ... like picking up litter. And who will be to blame when such a law does not go plan?

  • Comment number 56.

    In answer to #49, my proposed petition is to remove all recognition of so-called "International Law" from our legal system. The only people with a say over law making in this country should be the population of this country. If a majority want to ban mosques, then they should be banned - there are plenty of muslim countries that have no problem with banning non-muslim religions.

  • Comment number 57.

    This is a gimmick. MPs cannot decide what to debate at present, and private members bills have little chance without tacit approval by the Government. A coalition gimmick to make us feel we are all in it together, power to the people.

    This wil require yet another Quango or department of the civil service to process the issues raised. No doubt all the relevant stakeholders will be consulted on every issue.

    But Labour's response is very revealing: the electorate will come up with crazy ideas. Ho ho. Never trusted the people have they.

    You will see this approach in the coming posts - cannot trust the uneducated British, who will be manipulated by extremists, dumbed down by the Murdoch media, and so on.

    So best leave it to the toffs who will continue to run things as they are now.

  • Comment number 58.

    48. At 11:25am on 28 Dec 2010, Make the bankers pay wrote:
    All this measure will do is highlight just how reactionary the majority of British people are. If the nature of comments on this site are anything to go by, expect these to be the first few laws to be debated: (1) bringing back capital punishment; (2) leaving the EU; (3) a ban on immigration from "the wrong sort of country"; and (4) bringing back national service.

    These will probably be closely followed by: (5) banning speed cameras; (6) removing the ban on smoking in public places; and (7) Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister.

    There will be perfectly valid, rational causes that deserve to be debated, but unfortunately they will get drowned out by the not-so-silent Daily Mail tendency.
    ==============================================================
    Calm down. I'm sure the 'reactionary majority' won't actually get a voice so we can concentrate on the 'valid, rational causes' after all.
    You seem scared of the majority view

  • Comment number 59.

    All i want is MP's the public can sack.
    Now if this was an idea where 1 million public voices could remove an MP from their position (Removing their pensions too) i would be all for it.
    Anything less is just spin.

  • Comment number 60.

    "Will online petitions help improve laws?"

    Well, there are so many on this HYS with good ideas and there are also those who constantly complain about Government etc - so what's wrong with being given the chance to 'air our views' direct to Parliament?

    At least the Majority views can be made, and thereby give us an idea of it's popularity - unlike on HYS - where we are not permitted to 'recommend' and so have NO idea of the majority view...

  • Comment number 61.

    This is typical government spin. What they're trying to do is to allow people to let off steam and feel better, thinking that politicians will listen. What will actually happen is that the 'terms and conditions' attached to these petitions will guarantee that few if any will ever get debated in Parliament. No petition will ever be allowed to change the government's own legislative programme. Don't waste your time.

  • Comment number 62.

    A read a lot of sceptism on this issue.

    Thats fine, but at least give it a chance. Just what is Paul Flynn ( Labour MP opposed to this bill )afraid of?

    Surely there will be someone with a bit of sense who will shake the chaff from the wheat and we can have a healthy debate of the relevant issues that will affect us, the people. The ones who dont like this idea are the ones who have something to hide or are afraid that we might ask the right questions.

    It may even encourage more people to vote at elelctions. You never know, the first petition may be to make illegal NOT to vote, with a NOTA on the ballot paper.

  • Comment number 63.

    59. At 11:39am on 28 Dec 2010, Semisatanic wrote: All i want is MP's the public can sack.
    Now if this was an idea where 1 million public voices could remove an MP from their position (Removing their pensions too) i would be all for it.
    Anything less is just spin.
    ---------------------------------------------

    Excellent post. This proposal could be the test. If we cannot sack rogue MPs then the rest is just a scam.

  • Comment number 64.

    I'm thinking of starting the following petition:

    Say No To On-line Petitions
    We, the undersigned, call upon the Coalition Government to not introduce a system whereby popular on-line petitions are debated by MPs in the House of Commons.

    To introduce such a system is just plain daft.


    Anyone want to buy a tee shirt?

  • Comment number 65.

    This idea genuinely scares me. Lobbies and petitions over-emphasise extremes of opinions within populations, and some debates overly attract one side (CCTV is a classic example; it is the biggest enemy of the criminal - take the crossbow cannibal as an example, and yet if you read HYS you would think that everyone in the country wants it scapped. No one I know wants it scrapped, but it is not something they feel strongly enough to debate).

    MPs are not clever enough to realise what data shows them (as one of them sensibly pointed out earlier in the year), and they will not have the intellectual horsepower required to understand the under-representation of the population's real opinions in such petitions.

    Lastly, I simply do not trust the judgement of the average loudmouth who signs petitions.

  • Comment number 66.

    50. At 11:29am on 28 Dec 2010, CoeurDeHamster wrote:
    They ignore us now – these leaders of this so-called democracy; what shred of evidence is there that they will stop ignoring us with on-line petitions?

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    They may well choose to ignore us. But as long as they publish what petitions have reached the 100,000 mark, we can see then what they are afraid to debate. ( assuming that the petition was sensible )

  • Comment number 67.

    48. At 11:25am on 28 Dec 2010, Make the bankers pay wrote:
    All this measure will do is highlight just how reactionary the majority of British people are. If the nature of comments on this site are anything to go by, expect these to be the first few laws to be debated: (1) bringing back capital punishment; (2) leaving the EU; (3) a ban on immigration from "the wrong sort of country"; and (4) bringing back national service.

    These will probably be closely followed by: (5) banning speed cameras; (6) removing the ban on smoking in public places; and (7) Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister.

    There will be perfectly valid, rational causes that deserve to be debated, but unfortunately they will get drowned out by the not-so-silent Daily Mail tendency.
    .
    ............................................
    .
    Firstly, I am not and never have been a Daily Mail reader.
    Secondly, I do not consider myself remotely reactionary
    Lets look at the subjects you have picked -
    1 capital punishment
    2 membership of the EU
    3 immigration
    4 national service
    5 speed cameras
    6 the smoking ban
    7 Clarkson for prime minister

    Ignoring the last one there are a number of issues here which in my view do warrant sensible discussion. For example, I am over 50 years of age and I have never been given the oportunity to say whether I want my country to be included in the EU. From my own experience I can tell you these are a huge number of people in UK who would like a proper debate, as promised by our elected politicians some time ago.

    Rather than just deride those people who would like these subjects discussed as somehow lacking in intellect perhaps you can explain why these topics should not be open for debate......or perhaps, like our glorious elected representatives you feel that you know best?

  • Comment number 68.

    63. At 11:47am on 28 Dec 2010, Dr Llareggub wrote:
    59. At 11:39am on 28 Dec 2010, Semisatanic wrote: All i want is MP's the public can sack.
    Now if this was an idea where 1 million public voices could remove an MP from their position (Removing their pensions too) i would be all for it.
    Anything less is just spin.
    ---------------------------------------------

    Excellent post. This proposal could be the test. If we cannot sack rogue MPs then the rest is just a scam.
    =================================================
    Dr Not a lot: As MPs serve in a fixed term parliament the public can 'sack' them reasonably frequently (and with a lot less votes than 1 million)
    Some sort of on-line system would be so open to abuse as to be unworkable. Get a million Tories to vote out all the Labour MPs and a million Labour supporters ditto. The MPs would be changing that often that nothing would get done. Er, hang on, I'm with you now

  • Comment number 69.

    Silly me - and I thought we lived in a demockrassy as well.

  • Comment number 70.

    36. At 11:10am on 28 Dec 2010, Michael Lloyd wrote:
    "25. At 10:57am on 28 Dec 2010, chirojupiter wrote:

    Popular? According to who? They will allow petitions to satisfy general public but do nothing. Will there ever be ever people power and more freedom? Hardly. How about if, one day, everyone vote yes on the most popular issues like bring back death penalty, rights to possess a gun, or leave EU forever? Do you really think the parliament will bow to the will of the general public?"

    Can we please leave the wretched death penalty out of it. As long as we are members of the EU, we are NOT ALLOWED to have the death penalty. There is nothing to discuss, no point in petitioning for it, the EU will not allow it, regardless of the views, alleged or actual, of the populace. End of discussion.
    -------------------------------------
    Er, not quite the end. If the EU won't 'allow' things the British public wants then Britain should leave the EU. Britain thrived as a nation when we refused to be dictated to by foreigners, and as far as I'm concerned any European 'law' which doesn't have the consent of the British people has no validity here. It may have the consent of our so-called political leaders, but the British people have not been asked yet.

  • Comment number 71.

    65. At 11:50am on 28 Dec 2010, MK_Steve wrote:
    This idea genuinely scares me.

    Lastly, I simply do not trust the judgement of the average loudmouth who signs petitions.

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    So are you afraid that someone/a group may start apetition that you dont agree with and that they are just a bunch of loudmouthed yobs.

    What you and a lot of others are afraid of is the "Silent Majority"


  • Comment number 72.

    5. At 10:18am on 28 Dec 2010, qwerty wrote:
    "Labour said the plans would mean "crazy ideas" being discussed by MPs."

    What, because that doesn't happen already? I don't see how this idea can hurt; if 100,000 people sign a petition to have a dicussion it probably deserves to take place. A lot of things that ordinary people think are important never get much time in parliament, this may help address that balance.
    ========================================================================
    I dont see it would matter if 100k or 1000k signed a petetion that doesn't mean a debate in Parliamnet would happen. How many times have we been promised a referendum on vital national issues only to have governemnt of all colours simply ignore their pledge once in power. As other contributors have observed only believe it when it is enshrined in law and even then they will take all sorts of legal opinion to weasel out of what they dont like.


  • Comment number 73.

    THE IDEA IS SOUND......but it would be to our advantage if MPs actually take note of what the electorate are saying and implement our suggestions.

  • Comment number 74.

    In theory a great idea, to keep Parliament more in touch with 'the people' . A GPS for issues that maybe the government aren't even aware of and 'too afraid to ask' ! I think the general public would go for this if it's pushed big time and even got plenty of media exposure..not that i'd particulary want it 'glamourised' in any way. Might even get capital punishment/EU membership debated.. possible big vote winners those issues too.

  • Comment number 75.

    Yes it's a good idea but it needs to go further. There is no point in a debate when we all know the outcome will be whatever the politicians want, not the people. It's just smoke and mirrors until something is in place to say they have to find a way to do what people propose not just debate it.

  • Comment number 76.

    Any ideas to get the electorate more engaged in politics should be welcomed. It is deeply concerning that MPs still behave like knights in the House of Commons - too often setting policies without any consultation and involvement from local communities.

    So while I welcome the opening up of politics using online, I do worry that too few people actually listen online when they contribute to posts etc. Too often Twitter et al are just people ranting on and on and on about their personal views - without listening to others or engaging in debate.

    I hope that this latest initiative will see some good online debates that have a constructive influence and people engage with an open mind. Alas I fear that the Twitter 'mob' will use it as another channel for ranting-off and not listening.

  • Comment number 77.

    65. At 11:50am on 28 Dec 2010, MK_Steve wrote:

    This idea genuinely scares me. Lobbies and petitions over-emphasise extremes of opinions within populations, and some debates overly attract one side (CCTV is a classic example; it is the biggest enemy of the criminal - take the crossbow cannibal as an example, and yet if you read HYS you would think that everyone in the country wants it scapped. No one I know wants it scrapped, but it is not something they feel strongly enough to debate).


    CCTV records crime, it doesn't prevent it.

  • Comment number 78.

    I like this idea because it's the start of people realising WE NO LONGER NEED REPRESENTATION.
    People can generate agendas for what's important and directly vote on them all by themselves.
    Am counting the days to the demise of party politics and no need for politicians with their snouts so far in the trough all you can see is a curly little tail.

  • Comment number 79.

    51. At 11:30am on 28 Dec 2010, Jeff Martin wrote:
    20. At 10:39am on 28 Dec 2010, corum-populo-2010 wrote:
    "Will on-line petitions help 'improve' laws"? is the HYS question.

    Although this 'project' is only in it's embryonic stage - it sounds like a progressive attempt to engage the electorate.

    What a pity that Labour are sniping at this. Too many lemon slices in their gin and tonics during their tax-payer paid Christmas holiday, no doubt?

    It's certainly worth a go - but it must be organised and administered/staffed sufficiently. Also, via a professionally designed and efficient site.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    It's nice to find someone on this site with a positive view.
    Recommend!

    Why are most posters, on most debates, so blinkered and narrow-minded that they immediately dismiss anything as a gimmick or having an ulterior motive? Stop looking back at what has heppened before - start looking forward, it may actually be light at the end of the tunnel!

    =======================================================================
    I imagine the majority of detractors or naysays or just negative response to these ideas comes from experience of a lifetime of noting government performances in relation to promises, manifestoes etc etc.......
    I'll tell you what. I would be much more optimistic, upbeat & enthusiastic whatever about this basically good idea if we had had just one of the promised yes PROMISED no provaracation referenda in times past. As it is my attitude is set by what successive government has done after I voted for them in relation to what they SAID they would do before I did. Bottom line, nothing does or will change.

  • Comment number 80.

    Does anyone remember last Christmas when the number 1 single was 'Killing In The Name Of' by Rage Against The Machine.
    It was not remotely festive and could not be played on any commercial radio station due to it's constant use of the 'F' word.
    It reached this spot as an online protest vote against Simon Cowell's latest X Factor winner.


    In a similar vein it would be very easy for someone to put forward a petition for something totally irellevant and get it supported by a few thousand people thereby forcing a debate.
    There are enough people who feel sufficiently disenfranchised to vote for almost anything.
    How about, for example, a proposal that all parliamentary business, including Prime Ministers Questions should be conducted in Welsh.
    I suspect that getting 100,000 people to vote for this, just for a laugh would be relatively easy.

  • Comment number 81.

    It won't make a blind bit of difference. A far bigger difference would be converting our government to a representative democracy in reality rather than just in name so that the average member of the public had someone in parliament who actually represented them. At the moment less than 40% of the population have that (and AV is not going to change it).

  • Comment number 82.

    I would like to think it might contribute if politicians had some idea of public views. In practice likely to be a waste since politicians of any party will find support for what they were going to do anyway. You only have to look at HYS to see the extremes of points of view in the UK. The only role of the public in politics is to pay for what our political masters care to do.

  • Comment number 83.

    This is a barking mad idea indulging the X-Factor approach to politics. It leaves Parliament wide open to having to discuss and publicise potty or offensive ideas put forward by any individual, business or minority political party with a basic grasp of PR. Parties who could not muster enough votes to win a seat (with good reason)would still, using supporters across the country, be able to have motions debated in Parliament.

    Expect topics like the death penalty, Clarkson to be Prime Minister and all immigrants to be removed, to soon be discussed in Parliament.


    A silly decision. Let's start a petition to stop it.

  • Comment number 84.

    75. At 12:04pm on 28 Dec 2010, Killer Boots Man wrote:
    Yes it's a good idea but it needs to go further. There is no point in a debate when we all know the outcome will be whatever the politicians want, not the people. It's just smoke and mirrors until something is in place to say they have to find a way to do what people propose not just debate it.
    ==========================================================
    But we elect MPs to represent us. The government is supposed to make balanced judgements (stop laughing at the back) with advice from the various departments of state. We also expect the government to make the right decisions not necessarily the most popular decisions.

    Having said that, the last Labour government had a penchant for knee jerk, populist legislation (and the Coalition seem to be shaping that way as well). Worst of the lot is the Scottish Executive - 2 answers to everything - either throw lots of money at it or ban it.

    My favourite is when MPs are allowed to vote 'according to personal conscience'. Eh? Not in the considered interests of the people they represent then?

  • Comment number 85.

    'But Labour said the plans would mean "crazy ideas" being discussed by MPs.'

    Would the rest of us notice any difference? No change there, then.

  • Comment number 86.

    68. At 11:55am on 28 Dec 2010, forclarification wrote:

    63. At 11:47am on 28 Dec 2010, Dr Llareggub wrote:
    59. At 11:39am on 28 Dec 2010, Semisatanic wrote: All i want is MP's the public can sack.
    Now if this was an idea where 1 million public voices could remove an MP from their position (Removing their pensions too) i would be all for it.
    Anything less is just spin.
    ---------------------------------------------

    Excellent post. This proposal could be the test. If we cannot sack rogue MPs then the rest is just a scam.
    =================================================
    Dr Not a lot: As MPs serve in a fixed term parliament the public can 'sack' them reasonably frequently (and with a lot less votes than 1 million)
    Some sort of on-line system would be so open to abuse as to be unworkable. Get a million Tories to vote out all the Labour MPs and a million Labour supporters ditto. The MPs would be changing that often that nothing would get done. Er, hang on, I'm with you now

    It wouldn't be hard to balance with supporting votes as well as condemming votes.
    4 years is a long time to leave a bad apple in the barrel.

  • Comment number 87.

    Who will decide on the topic of the petitions, will we have one on capital punishment or EU membership? I think not!!!

  • Comment number 88.

    So, the fact that petitioners have to be on the electoral role must mean there is zero scope for cyber fraud?

  • Comment number 89.

    As long as the petitions are transparent in terms of votes cast and the issues debated without prejudice by any of the parties i.e it's what the public wants to debate!

  • Comment number 90.

    This will make no difference. The minister promoting this said this morning that it will still be down to MP's to debate and vote on.
    On that basis a waste of time and money as our elected representatives will only vote along their own and their party lines, voters - fodder for the guns.

  • Comment number 91.

    Petitions are petitions, and can be ignored even if widely supported or after debate. Petitions use publicity to become popular and not all popular causes are the most significant things we ought to have Parliament debating.

    Having a say before laws are drawn up is much more impressive as a feature of democracy. What better way to encourage participation in government than ensuring registration of your right to vote carries with it the ability to make observations on potential law direct to parliament perhaps via a constituency MP, perhaps direct to an appropriate forum within the House itself?

    So how about much better ability to have opinions heard on all matters parliamentary?

  • Comment number 92.

    Maybe the BBC could trial the system by allowing HYS contributors to nominate a topic for debate?

    Say 20 votes?

    I'd nominate the impact of the snow on the Take That reunion tour............

  • Comment number 93.

    86. At 12:16pm on 28 Dec 2010, Semisatanic wrote:

    68. At 11:55am on 28 Dec 2010, forclarification wrote:

    63. At 11:47am on 28 Dec 2010, Dr Llareggub wrote:
    59. At 11:39am on 28 Dec 2010, Semisatanic wrote: All i want is MP's the public can sack.
    Now if this was an idea where 1 million public voices could remove an MP from their position (Removing their pensions too) i would be all for it.
    Anything less is just spin.
    ---------------------------------------------

    Excellent post. This proposal could be the test. If we cannot sack rogue MPs then the rest is just a scam.
    =================================================
    Dr Not a lot: As MPs serve in a fixed term parliament the public can 'sack' them reasonably frequently (and with a lot less votes than 1 million)
    Some sort of on-line system would be so open to abuse as to be unworkable. Get a million Tories to vote out all the Labour MPs and a million Labour supporters ditto. The MPs would be changing that often that nothing would get done. Er, hang on, I'm with you now

    It wouldn't be hard to balance with supporting votes as well as condemming votes.
    4 years is a long time to leave a bad apple in the barrel.


    Five years if the fixed term parliament bill is enacted. However, as our elections are constituency based, surely it must be up to the constituency voters to petition for their MP to be removed and not the public at large.

  • Comment number 94.

    "Labour said the plans would mean "crazy ideas" being discussed by MPs."

    I'm afraid here's a perfect example of politicians fearful we might get something they can't stand us having, 'a voice', and whats this worry on the issue of crazy ideas being submitted?, Labour hoovered up that resvoir long ago when they were in power, hence why they are not now!, if anything this comment from Labour displays nothing but breath taking argorance in the face of the voter, there belief no doubt is we get our say every five years on the back of some limp written party manifestos for the gullible that amounts to nothing more than a bumper book of throw away lies, so of course why should we need more?, how dare we assume, we, the great unwashed, should have an active say in the parliamentary timetable.

    Then I read further the coalition intent moving the new 'carefully' moderated online petition service to the directgov website, yer and no doubt with a very small weblink so that if you can find it, you can use it!, I'd put bet on it there'll be no long term fanfare avocating its use

  • Comment number 95.

    NO NO NO This will lead to the NUTTERS paradise.

  • Comment number 96.

    Totally stupid idea, another daft token gesture to give the public more delusional belief that they have a voice! Maybe using the ballot box properly in the first place would be a step forward. As it is, people vote for any old rubbish, hence why the political system is a sham.

  • Comment number 97.

    If there are enough supporters, an idea may be debated in Parliament, then voted upon. Surely then, once the MPs are whipped, anything the incumbent government didn't support would be voted down? So, apart from voicing the views of a significant proportion of the electorate, wouldn't this just be a waste of parliamentary time?
    More patronising and platitudes from Westminster. What we really need is for all legislature to be devolved to the people, but that would need the "turkeys to vote for Christmas" and that ain't going to happen. So we are consigned to be governed by lawyers, for the benefit of lawyers.

  • Comment number 98.

    If such petitions were in any manner realistically relevent to changing government policy:-

    would we have gone to war in Iraq,
    would students be facing huge debts while MPs and others on good incomes who gained free education reap the financial rewards of a previous and continueing unsustainable social system which basically passes on debts to future and unborn generations, including costs of maintaining nuclear waste for thousands of years.

    Maybe, this may lead to other freedom of expression restrictions, such as not allowing demonstrations until dictated criterea of instigation of a petition has gained a specific outcome.

    Maybe, if our electoral and governing system was factually democratic and non-biased, non deceitful, and not as it presently is a manipulative deceitful NON democratic attrocity left over from centurys old totalitarian controling elitist groups.

    Maybe, if EVERY voter was actually represented in parliament/government and NOT just mainly and essentially a minority representative who does not represent the wishes and policys of the majority of those who actually voted in opposition for any number of other candidates.

    Maybe, if Parliament was just abandoned & a new parliamentry governing building capable of meeting the NEEDS of MODERN and MORAL democracy was built then there would be no excuses to maintain/cling on to OLD useless and dictatorial pretentious governing systems.

    Maybe if the likes of Rupert Murdoch did not wield so much influence & power via his media empire (as in attrocious influential USA political biased propaganda) & other media were not so influential as to whipping up hatred & hysterical reactionary sentiment etc over all manner of subjects, then such a system could be trusted and actually have greater influence.

    This is also an opportunity to engauge the public and see how trustworthy such a system would be and whether already organised groups will just manipulate petitions for their own purposes inclusive of empowering themselves up through the governing system and gaining personal power/position.

    By the same outcomes against Paypal & others who were seen/believed to have acted against Wilkileaks, the counter action to undermine would also be a reality of this petition system.

    Who is going to check who has signed it, who is going to check/verify the legitimacy of such petitions and that they have not been fraudulently attained.

    I can see especially newspapers hi-jacking such a system and other vested interest groups who can and will utilise petitions just to further their own cause.

    Ultimately, constituents should be petitioning their OWN local MP because THATS where the power & influence actually is & if numerous MPs are petitioned to put a point across in parliament or to get them to vote for a specific policy etc as put by constituents then that should legitimately influence parliament.

    I can see this just being utilised by vested interest groups.

    People NEED to wake up to the REAL power of persuassion of petioning their OWN MPs and organising mass petitions to MPs up & down the country, because ultimately it is ONLY constituent influence that will ultimately wield change and action.

    Its all very well having a debate or mention about something in parliament but MPs casn then just say they have not been specifically and individually empowered by their constituents views, of which they are elected to represent.

  • Comment number 99.

    I can see how this idea might look superficially attractive, but if enacted it will inevitably get high-jacked or manipulated by pressure groups determined to have their particular issue debated. I think we will need ground rules to define the sort of issue upon which a petition can be raised and the threshold needs to be higher than 100,000 possibly 250,000. Otherwise we will be forced to have debates on issues which are impractical or just plain daft, simply because a body or individual has persuaded the public or its members to vote on a particular issue. Anyone remember the 'Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister' petition on the Number 10 website which garnered over 40,000 signatures. This whole thing could end up wasting already scarce parliamentary time unless very carefully managed.

  • Comment number 100.

    The proposal for online petitions seems rather like a low-cost appeasement for an increasingly annoyed population (the polls show support for the coalition is waning).

    It seems so ironic that this suggestion is made at the same time as a report on the BBC web site today highlights the number of children (and families) who do not have access to computers or the internet : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12075057

    These families would be disadvantaged in accessing these surveys and would be excluded from such a democratic process. It is unlikely that this government would want to hear from this particular group I guess?

 

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