Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Sham Of e-petitions

Oh I have lost count of how many times I have clicked on to Dr Kailash Chands e-petition and marvelled at the daily increase (in thousands) of those who have signed.  Initially I truly believed that the general public genuinely had a voice and could elicit change, that when the magic total of 100,000 was reached, the subject of the petition would be debated in Parliament.

Then I read the ‘small print’ and realised I was a trusting fool.

The website states “e-petitions is an easy way for you to influence government policy in the UK.”  However this is strictly not true as plainly stated in ‘How e-petitions work’ - “If you collect 100,000 signatures, your e-petition COULD be debated in the House of Commons.”  Just could be, that’s all.

Any person in the UK can petition the government electronically and any petition that reaches 100,000 is referred to the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee (BBC), who reviews the petition and decides whether it merits debate in Parliament.  (However a petition does not necessarily have to reach the 100,000 total if the Committee feels its subject merits debate.)

If a petition reaches 100,000 it does not automatically follow that it will be debated as it may be felt the subject does not merit debate, there is not time available to schedule the debate or no MP wishes to debate it.

With regards to Dr Chands e-petition Labour MP Natascha Engel (chairwoman of the BBC) states in this article in The Huffington Post “the amount of time allocated by the government meant it was increasingly difficult to schedule debates on contentious issues such as NHS reform.”

She also states that she can only schedule debates with cross-party support necessitating Liberal Democrats and/or Tory MPs to back the Drop the Health Bill petition.

So regrettably it would appear that the petition will/might not be debated and that the electorates’ voices will be ignored.

Is this surprising from a government that does not invite critics of its reforms to its meeting?

Anna :o[


Witch Doctor said...

It looks then as though these e-petitions are just part of the “lets pretend we are democratic” game – from the same toy-box as the ‘lets pretend we have choice game.”

Perhaps they are more to do with data mining than democracy.

Julie said...

It's still worth doing Anna, because if they ignore the petition, they make themselves look bad, along with not inviting health care professionals to a meeting about the NHS.

Play the percentages and don't give up.

Anna :o] said...

Thanks for your comments Witch Doctor and Julie.

WD ~ I am certain it is a clever game of let's pretend.

"Perhaps they are more to do with data mining than democracy."

Never even considered that - what a clever government we have who get dissenters to name themselves!

Julie ~ You are right (hopefully) in that others will perceive the government as 'bad' - but I don't think the goverment gives a damn.

Never fear - I shall never surrender!

Anna :o]