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Petitions Committee Chair calls on the Government to end petition debates suspension

21 May 2020

Catherine McKinnell, Chair of the Petitions Committee, has called on the Government to end the suspension of Petitions Committee debates to ensure "thorough, proper scrutiny" of Government policy.


The Chair of the Petitions Committee has written to Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House, urging him to reintroduce debates on petitions - allowing petitioners and backbench MPs to once again hold the Government to account. This follows the Leader of the House's announcement of the Government's intention to end hybrid proceedings and see MPs return to Westminster.

The Chair of the Petitions Committee also has written to Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, asking him to consider reopening Westminster Hall as part of his work on ensuring the House of Commons continues to be a safe working environment for MPs and staff.


On 19 March, the House of Commons agreed to suspend parliamentary business in Westminster Hall, where petitions debates are held, because of the COVID-19 lockdown. This means that it has not been possible for petitions which have each received more than 100,000 signatures to be formally debated by MPs.

The letters highlight the innovative approach taken by the Petitions Committee to hold the Government to account. These include scrutinising the Government through virtual evidence sessions, sending correspondence and holding record-breaking digital public engagement events.


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