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Chair invites select committee Chairs to collaborate on coronavirus scrutiny

23 April 2020

The Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, has written to all House of Commons Select Committee Chairs in relation to the unprecedented number of e-petitions the Petitions Committee has received on the Coronavirus outbreak.  

The letter, written on behalf of the Petitions Committee, highlights that Committees have been working throughout recess to scrutinise and hold the Government to account, and invites other Committees to collaborate even further on some of the vital issues raised by petitioners across the country on COVID-19.

The correspondence shines a light on the way that petitions can raise issues that may have been overlooked by Parliament or the Government in this fast-moving situation, and emphasises the important role petitions can continue to play in helping committees scrutinise the Government's response to the Coronavirus crisis.

Petitions relating to COVID-19, on issues ranging from school closures and exam results to keyworker definitions and how long the lockdown might last, have received over 3 million signatures. Members of the public also submitted more than 60,000 questions via a digital survey which asked the public what questions they most wanted answers to relating to coronavirus ahead of a virtual evidence session organised by the Petitions Committee last month.

Supporting Select Committees

The letter sets out how the Petitions Committee has already been supporting other Committees to conduct their own work into coronavirus, where this would benefit from the input of people who have signed e-petitions. The Committee has facilitated a number of Committees who wanted contributions from the public by circulating calls for evidence, surveys and other requests for information to people who have signed relevant petitions.
While it is not currently possible to schedule debates on issues relating to e-petitions, the letter states that the Committee continues to represent e-petitioners on the important matters they are raising, notably in a coronavirus virtual evidence session held last month alongside members from the Work and Pensions Select Committee, and in correspondence to senior ministers across Government.

The full list of Committee Chairs contacted by the Petitions Committee Chair is below:  

  • Ian Mearns MP, Chair of the Backbench Business Committee 
  • Mark Pawsey MP, Acting Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee 
  • Rt. Hon. Tobias Ellwood MP, Chair of the Defence Committee 
  • Julian Knight MP, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee 
  • Rt. Hon. Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee 
  • Rt. Hon. Philip Dunne, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee 
  • Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee 
  • Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn MP, Chair of the Exiting the European Union Committee 
  • Tom Tughendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee 
  • Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP, Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee 
  • Rt. Hon. Yvette Cooper MP, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee 
  • Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee 
  • Sarah Champion MP, Chair of the International Development Committee 
  • Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, Chair of the International Trade Committee 
  • Sir Robert Neill, Chair of the Justice Select Committee 
  • Simon Hoare, Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee 
  • Rt. Hon. Karen Bradley MP, Chair of the Procedure Committee 
  • William Wragg MP, Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee 
  • Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee 
  • Rt. Hon. Greg Clark MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee 
  • Pete Wishart MP, Chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee 
  • Kate Green MP, Chair of the Standards Committee 
  • Huw Merriman MP, Chair of the Transport Committee 
  • Rt. Hon. Mel Stride MP, Chair of the Treasury Committee 
  • Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP, Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee 
  • Rt. Hon. Caroline Noakes MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee 
  • Rt. Hon. Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee 

All live petitions relating to COVID-19 remain open. You can find committee correspondence and details of the Committee's virtual evidence session, including a video and transcript, on the Petitions Committee website.  

Further information

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