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to think it's unfair that the rule about automatic parlimentary debates for 100k+ signature petitions only applies to the online petitions?

(9 Posts)
LaWeasel Fri 02-Sep-11 14:33:07

We live in the area which will be affected by the new High Speed Railway line (if it goes ahead). A local group against it has just been told their 100,000 signatures against HS2 don't count towards starting an online debate because they weren't done using the government's online petition site!

To be completely truthful, I don't give a stuff about whether this railway line goes ahead or not, if anything I'm probably in favour - but it seems really wrong that a group of people who went out and did a petition the hard way, in person on the streets, have been told that it isn't as good as the opinion of those who spent 30 seconds filling in some boxes online. Having been asked to sign dozens of internet petitions there are often signatures from "Queen Victoria" or the same person posting using different email address' to make multiple signatures... I've only signed one petition in person and didn't notice anything like that.

I think the rule is prejudiced against the elderly, computer illiterate people, and those vast swaths of the countryside that don't have good internet connections and would struggle to get the site to function.

AIBU to think that handwritten signatures are as good if not better than virtual ones and the same rule should apply?

LaWeasel Fri 02-Sep-11 14:34:05

sorry, I made a mistake - they've been told their petition doesn't count towards the rule that if you gather 100k signatures you can have an automative parlimentary debate on the issue.

OTheHugeRaveningWolef Fri 02-Sep-11 14:44:38

It doesn't trigger an automatic parliamentary debate if you get 100K signatures.

What happens is that the petition goes to the backbench business committee, who will then decide whether to schedule time on the 35 days allocated in the year for non-government business for the issue to be debated in Parliament or not.

YANBU, but I fear the advantage you believe e-petitions to have is largely imaginary.

LaWeasel Fri 02-Sep-11 14:47:51

Oh really?

I didn't know that. I am getting my info from the local paper which is (pretty obviously) very anti HS2. So I guess they conveniently left that part out!

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 02-Sep-11 14:49:56

I think the whole internet petition thing is probably seen as something of an own goal by those in charge. I think the first one off the block was "Jeremy Clarkson for PM" (could be wrong) and they've not improved much since.

LineRunner Fri 02-Sep-11 14:54:21

There are other ways to have issues raised in parliament. Any MP can table an Early Day Motion, or instigate an Adjournment Debate. These have just as much power (i.e. none) as a 'Petition Debate', but they generate publicity if the interest group is savvy enough.

Petitions are a bit of a fucking joke in general. Take planning objections - you could have a petition signed by 100 people and it would count as ONE objection. It is much better to have separate letters or online comments citing proper grounds for objection. Petitions tend to be the most badly organised form of protest going.

OTheHugeRaveningWolef Fri 02-Sep-11 14:55:50

Link to article about e-petitions and the Backbench Biz Committee

Surely the way it's been set up has to be pretty much the definition of 'kicking something into the long grass'?

I'd have thought you're better off lobbying your local MPs, getting green groups involved, going about it the old-fashioned way. Good luck, anyway smile

LaWeasel Fri 02-Sep-11 14:58:18

I'm not really on the anti-HS2 team.

I didn't know that petitions only counted as one objection either though - that's pretty shocking too!

I feel a bit bad for them though if all that effort has basically been for nothing, hopefully someone has been giving them more constructive advice along the write to your MPs side of things.

Artichokes Fri 02-Sep-11 14:59:05

I am sure if the organisers of your petition wrote to Natasha Engel MP, Chair if the Backbench Business Committee, she would give that petition as much consideration for debate as any epetition. That committee can select what it likes for debate, it doesn't have to take inspiration from the epetitions, it just has to consider them as possibilities.

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