How to petition Canadian legislatures

A fair number of people regularly end up on this blog looking for information about petitioning Parliament. Here is an overview of the proper way to petition the House of Commons, as well as the provincial and territorial legislatures. Number of Signatures Before looking at the various petition requirements,  I want to address one issue that regularly turns up on the keyword search statistics on this blog. Many people are looking for information about “how many signatures are required for a petition” in Canada. In general, there is no minimum number of signatures needed to validate a petition. A petition could be submitted with only one signature on it. The Parliament of Canada does require that a paper petition have […]

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 […]

Update on e-petitions

The UK House of Commons Procedure Committee recently released its report on the Government’s e-petitions scheme. It is well known that there is significant confusion regarding how many signatures an e-petition requires in order for it to be debated in the House of Commons. Indeed, this blog regularly gets hits from people searching for information on how many signatures does an e-petition need in order to be debated. What I have tried to make clear in previous posts is that no e-petition is guaranteed a debate in the House of Commons, but that an e-petition which garners over 100,000 signatures will be referred to the Backbench Business Committee for consideration for debate. The Committee’s report has further clarified the matter […]

Some interesting links: rebel MPs, e-petitions, hung parliaments, and political disengagement

1. Rebels of the Chamber Isabel Hardman has a fascinating piece looking at some of the most rebellious backbench MPs in the UK House of Commons: Once an MP starts down the route of the serial rebel, it seems easier for the whips to leave them be. Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn, is one such example. “A whip called me once, saying: ‘I just wanted to confirm that you will definitely be voting against us tonight’,” he says. “I replied, yes, your intelligence is right.” 2. Procedure Committee releases its report on e-Petitions In an earlier post, I reported on a hearing of the UK House of Commons Procedure Committee into the Government’s e-petitions scheme. The Committee recently released its […]

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 […]

Challenges facing modern parliaments

In this post, I wrote about a recent report by the UK House of Commons Procedure Committee which reviewed the elections held, for the first time, in most cases, to fill various positions in the House. These elections were part of the reforms adopted by the House of Commons in the spring of 2010, before the May 2010 general election. Recently, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow addressed the Hansard Society as part of their events marking the 100th anniversary of the Parliament Act 1911. You can find the link to download the entire speech here. In this post, I will focus on second part of Speaker Bercow’s talk: the challenges facing modern parliaments. Speaker Bercow identifies what he believes […]