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How do petitions work?

How do petitions work?

British citizens and UK residents can create e-petitions on to be considered in parliament. Petitions must call for a specific action and focus on an area that the Government or the House of Commons is directly responsible for. When a petition reaches 10,000 signatures, the government will respond online. When a petition reaches 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in parliament. It is rare a petition will not be debated once it reaches 100,000 signatures, but this may happen if the issue has already been debated recently, or a similar debate is already scheduled. Paper petitions, or public petitions, can also be presented to the House of Commons by MPs. These can also be considered for debate, will receive a government response, and unlike e-petitions, do not need a minimum number of signatures. 

The petitions committee is a select committee within the House of Commons. This committee reviews e-petitions and paper petitions and is made up of 11 backbench MPs from the government and opposition parties. The number of MPs from each party in the committee reflects the number of MPs in the Commons as a whole. The committee can: 

  • Write to the Government or public body to ask for action on a petition. 
  • Ask the petitioners, government, or relevant organisations for further information on the petitions in writing or in person. 
  • Ask another parliamentary committee to investigate the issue raised in the petition further. 
  • Put forward petitions for debate in the House of Commons. 

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