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.
The process for e-petitions is different to the process for paper petitions, which can only be presented to the House of Commons by an MP.
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 will be 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 will receive a written response from the UK Government. The Committee can also schedule debates in the House of Commons' second debating chamber (Westminster Hall), on Monday evenings at 4.30 pm.
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 will be 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.
The Petitions Committee has also taken oral evidence jointly with the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on grouse shooting, with the Health Select Committee on the meningitis B vaccine, and with the Women and Equalities Committee on high heels and workplace dress codes in response to petitions.
As of November 2016, the members of the committee are as follows:
|Helen Jones MP (Chairman)||Labour||Warrington North|
|Rehman Chishti MP||Conservative||Gillingham and Rainham|
|Martyn Day MP||SNP||Linlithgow and East Falkirk|
|Michelle Donelan MP||Conservative||Chippenham|
|Steve Double MP||Conservative||St Austell and Newquay|
|Mike Hill MP||Labour||Hartlepool|
|Susan Jones MP||Labour||Clwyd South|
|Catherine McKinnell MP||Labour||Newcastle upon Tyne North|
|Damien Moore MP||Conservative||Southport|
|Paul Scully MP||Conservative||Sutton and Cheam|
|Liz Twist MP||Labour||Blaydon|
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.
|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|
|12/10/2015||Make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal.||Cannabis in the United Kingdom, Legality of cannabis|
|19/10/2015||Stop allowing immigrants into the UK||Immigration in the United Kingdom|
|26/10/2015||Make an allowance for up to 2 weeks term time leave from school for holiday||English school holidays|
|30/11/2015||Introduce a tax on sugary drinks in the UK to improve our children’s health||Sugary drinks tax|
|07/12/2015||Don't kill our bees! Immediately halt the use of Neonicotinoids on crops||Bees and toxic chemicals, Neonicotinoids|
|11/01/2016||Keep the NHS Bursary||NHS Student Bursary|
|18/01/2016||Block Donald J Trump from UK entry; Don’t ban Trump from the United Kingdom||Donald Trump|
|25/01/2016||Scrap plans forcing self-employed & small business to do 4 tax returns yearly||Taxation in the United Kingdom|
|01/02/2016||Make fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950's women||Pensions in the United Kingdom|
|07/03/2016||Scrap the £35k threshold for non-EU citizens settling in the UK||Immigration in the United Kingdom|
|21/03/2016||Jeremy Hunt to resume meaningful contract negotiations with the BMA||Junior doctors|
|18/04/2016||Fund more research into brain tumours, the biggest cancer killer of under-40s||Brain tumors; cancer research|
|25/04/2016||Give the Meningitis B vaccine to ALL children, not just newborn babies||Meningococcal vaccine|
|09/05/2016||Stop Cameron spending British taxpayers' money on Pro-EU Referendum leaflets||2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum|
|06/06/2016||Restrict the use of fireworks to reduce stress and fear in animals and pets||Fireworks law in the United Kingdom|
|13/06/2016||Stop spending a fixed 0.7 per cent slice of our national wealth on Foreign Aid||Department for International Development|
|04/07/2016||Include expressive arts subjects in the EBacc||English Baccalaureate|
|11/07/2016||No more school penalty fines and bring back the 10 day authorised absence||English school holidays|
|18/07/2016||Stop retrospective changes to the student loans agreement||Student loans in the United Kingdom|
- "Ask your MP to present a petition". UK Parliament.
- See Standing Order No. 10(1)(a). "Weekly decisions". UK Parliament.
- HC 554 2015-16. "Funding for research into brain tumours". UK Parliament.
- "Grouse shooting joint evidence session". UK Parliament.
- "Meningitis B vaccine inquiry". UK Parliament.
- "High heels and workplace dress codes inquiry". UK Parliament.
- "Membership - Petitions Committee". UK Parliament.
- "Petitions Committee marks first year of achievements in new report - News from Parliament". UK Parliament.