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Petitions Committee Chair urges Government to urgently make plans to restart petitions debates

14 January 2021

The Chair of the Petitions Committee Catherine McKinnell MP has called on the Government to urgently make plans to restart petitions debates following the decision to temporarily suspend sittings in Westminster Hall.

The House of Commons has agreed to suspend sittings in Westminster Hall, where petitions debates take place, and sitting Fridays until further notice, due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

All debates scheduled by the Petitions Committee on petitions that have more than 100,000 signatures have had to be postponed. Once Westminster Hall has reopened, the Petitions Committee will reschedule as many debates as possible. In the meantime, the Committee is considering how to ensure petitioners’ concerns continue to be heard in Parliament.

Since Westminster Hall reopened in October, the Petitions Committee has held 22 debates, covering 37 petitions, signed by more than 7 million people. Thirty-three petitions are waiting for debate and the number is growing every week; they share more than 6 million signatures.

Chair's comment

"On behalf of the millions of people waiting to have their petitions debated, I am disappointed that the Government hasn’t made it possible for debates to continue virtually while Westminster Hall has to close.

The Petitions Committee will continue to take action on petitions, including taking evidence, speaking to petitioners and holding our own virtual sessions, but I hope that in the coming weeks the Government will bring forward plans to make sure that petition debates can restart as soon as possible, and including as many MPs as possible"

Read the Chair's full speech to the House on this issue

Further information

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