How the Backbench Business Committee works

I have written a number of posts about the UK House of Commons Backbench Business Committee, trying to explain to readers what the committee is, what it does, and its role in relation to petition-driven debates. The Committee’s website now includes a very useful “How the Backbench Business Committee Works” page, complete with a video featuring Committee Chair Natascha Engel explaining what the Committee does, and how the e-petitions work. She makes it quite clear that a petition does not need 100,000 signatures to be considered for debate, it simply needs an MP to sponsor it and apply for a debate on the subject matter raised by the petition. You can also download a list of the topics chosen for […]

Some parliamentary reforms to look forward to in 2012

The BBC’s parliamentary correspondent, Mark D’Arcy, has an interesting look ahead  at what to expect at Westminster in 2012, with two items in particular worthy of special attention. The first will be a review of the Backbench Business Committee. I have written a number of posts about this new committee, and many readers have frequently asked if the Backbench Business Committee has been a success. By most accounts, it has, which is why the review will take on added importance. As D’Arcy notes: While the Leader of the House, Sir George Young, and his Lib Dem deputy, David Heath, are both convinced reformers, not everyone is an unalloyed fan of the new empowerment of backbenchers. “Too keen on confrontational debates”, […]

Procedure Committee looks at e-petitions

The UK House of Commons Procedure Committee heard from Leader of the House of Commons, the Rt. Hon. Sir George Young, and from MP Natascha Engel, chair of the Backbench Business Committee (BBC) on the matter of e-petitions. You can watch the meeting here, but I will summarise below some of the key issues raised. Ms. Engel noted several times that the big problem with the e-petitions scheme was that it was conceived and implemented by the Government without consultation or debate in Parliament. Had there been consultation and debate, many of the problems which have arisen, and which she believes were entirely foreseeable, could have been avoided. The biggest problem for the BBC is that of time. The e-petitions […]

Has the Backbench Business Commitee been a success?

A reader of this blog asked if the UK House of Commons Backbench Business Committee has been a success. This is a difficult question to answer because I am not certain how one would measure  – or even define – success in this context. For those unfamiliar with the Backbench Business Committee, this is a new Commons select committee created on 15 June 2010 through the adoption of a new standing order. The creation of such a committee had been proposed during the previous Parliament by the Wright Committee on Reform of the House of Commons in its report of 12 November 2009. The purpose of the Backbench Business Committee is to schedule debates on 35 days during the current […]

The Backbench Business Committee on e-petitions

As readers may know, part of the plan when the UK Government launched its new e-petitions scheme this summer was that a petition which garnered over 100,000 signatures would be referred to the Backbench Business Committee for consideration for possible debate in Parliament. Two petitions have reached the required number of signatures and have been referred to the Committee (see this post for more information on this). Today, the Backbench Business Committee has released on statement on e-petitions noting certain problems with the e-petitions scheme as currently set up and which need to be addressed. These problems are: 1. The Government has not allocated any additional time to the Backbench Business Committee for scheduling debates on e-petitions and the Committee’s […]