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Debate on EU referendum rules

2 August 2016

The Petitions Committee schedules a debate on EU referendum rules following an e-petition which was started on petition.parliament.uk.

Debate

Monday 5 September 2016, 4.30pm, Westminster Hall

The debate, led by Ian Blackford MP, a member of the Petitions Committee, is on the motion "That this House has considered e-petition 131215 relating to EU referendum rules."

Why is this petition being debated?

The Committee has decided that the huge number of people signing this petition means that it should be debated by MPs. The Petitions Committee would like to make clear that, in scheduling this debate, they are not supporting the call for a second referendum. The debate will allow MPs to put forward a range of views on behalf of their constituents. At the end of the debate, a Government Minister will respond to the points raised.

The Petitions Committee has the power to schedule debates on e-petitions in the House of Commons Second Chamber, Westminster Hall. It considers all petitions which receive over 100,000 signatures for debate but may decide to schedule debates for petitions under this threshold. In deciding which petitions should be debated, it takes into account how many people have signed the petition, the topicality of the issue raised, whether the issue has recently been debated in Parliament, and the breadth of interest among MPs.

What will the petition debate achieve?

A debate in Westminster Hall does not have the power to change the law, and won't end with the House of Commons deciding whether or not to have a second referendum.  Moreover, the petition – which was opened on 25 May 2016, well before the referendum – calls for the referendum rules to be changed. It is now too late for the rules to be changed retrospectively. It will be up to the Government to decide whether it wants to start the process of agreeing a new law for a second referendum.

Debates on petitions in Westminster Hall are general debates about the issues raised by the petition. MPs can discuss the petition and, if they wish, ask questions about the Government's position on the issue or press the Government to take action. A Government Minister takes part in the debate and answers the points raised. These debates help to raise the profile of a campaign and could influence decision-making in Government and Parliament.

Creating new laws, or changing existing ones, can only be done through the parliamentary legislative process which involves a number of debates, and detailed consideration of the law in draft, in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. This process is normally started by the Government, although there are some ways in which individual MPs or members of the House of Lords who are not in the Government (known as "backbenchers") can ask Parliament to consider new laws. 

Further information

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