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Find out more about e-petitions

15 July 2015

E-petitions are an easy way for you to make sure your concerns are heard by Government and Parliament. E-petitions enable members of the public to petition the House of Commons and press for action from the government.  A new e-petitions system was set up in July 2015.

What can e-petitions be about?

E-petitions have to ask for a specific action from the government or the House of Commons and should be about something which the Government or the House of Commons is responsible for.

How many signatures will I need to start an e-petition?

A petition will need to be supported by at least six people before it is published on the petitions site for other people to sign. When you start a petition, the petitions site will tell you what you need to do to get five supporters for your petition.

What happens after I submit an e-petition? 

An e-petition will stay open on the e-petitions website for six months. The Petitions Committee will be able to decide to do any of the following with a petition:

  •  ask for more information in writing—from petitioners, the Government, or other relevant people or organisations
  • ask for more information in person—from petitioners, the Government, or other relevant people or organisations. This might be in Parliament or somewhere else in the UK
  • write to the Government or another public body to press for action on a petition
  • ask another parliamentary committee to look into the topic raised by a petition
  • put forward petitions for debate

The Petitions Committee will not be able to take action on every petition: it will need to use its judgement about which petitions to consider, and what action is appropriate for each one.

How will petitions be put forward for debate?

The Petitions Committee can recommend that petitions be debated in Westminster Hall. If the Petitions Committee decides that a petition should be debated in the main House of Commons Chamber, it would take that request to the Backbench Business Committee.

Will a petition with 100,000 signatures automatically be debated?

The  Petitions Committee will take the threshold of 100,000 signatures as a starting point when it considers which petitions should be debated.

But sometimes the Committee might not put forward a petition for debate if it's got over 100,000 signatures – for  example, if the same subject has recently been debated or if a debate is going to happen soon. If that's the case, we'll tell you how you can find out more about parliamentary debates on the issue raised by your petition.

Will all e-petitions be accepted?

Not always. Petitions will be rejected if they do not comply with the terms and conditions.

Who is in charge of the e-petitions system?

The new e-petitions system is jointly owned by the House of Commons and the government. It is overseen by the new Petitions Committee, along with paper petitions, on behalf of the House.

What's the difference between e-petitions and paper petitions?

Unlike e-petitions, public (or paper) petitions can only be presented to the House by an MP. Paper petitions must be addressed to the House of Commons, and not to the government. They only need to be signed by one petitioner to be presented.  

Why has the government e-petitions site closed?

The House of Commons agreed to set up a new e-petitions system, in collaboration with the government, which will enable members of the public to petition the House of Commons and press for action from the government.

The Procedure Committee was asked by the House of Commons to develop detailed proposals for a new e-petitions system, by working with the government and other interested parties. 

The Committee hoped that its proposals for a new system would improve the information available to petitioners about what the House of Commons does and enhance the relationship between petitioners and Members of Parliament.

The Procedure Committee's recommendations were published in the report, E-petitions: a collaborative system