Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Government plans e-petitions to waste your time and money

The Government has announced plans to use e-petitions to allow the public to raise issues with Parliament. "Ministers would be expected to reply to most of them, while some would be picked for debate by MPs in Westminster Hall or for select committee scrutiny. "

But haven't we heard all of this before? What is the 10 Downing Street petition website all about then, if it isn't for the public to submit petitions? Why would a Government announce a second petition system that offers nothing that the first one can't provide? If they want petition-based ideas to discuss in Westminster, then look at the existing site, instead of wasting yet more tax money on making a new one.

Is this because they don't have enough to do and need to fill up their time? As Brussels takes over more and more control of our Government at one end, and councils/assemblies/quangos gain more power at the local level, there is less and less for our MPs to do. Perhaps discussing ideas sent in by the public (sounds just like Big Brother's Big Mouth, doesn't it?) is all they can think of to fill up their time.

There are, as mentioned, thousands of petitions already, but what has the Labour Government done with these? Nothing. Why should anyone bother to use yet another petition system when the first one has been ignored? Isn't this really just another way to allow people to vent without Government having to take any notice?

Promoting petitions can take many hours and considerable amounts of money. But what can we expect in return for our efforts? Not a lot. "Ministers would be expected to reply to most of them" - not all, most. So we don't even have a guarantee that it won't be completely ignored, and even then, most will simply receive a 'reply'.

There doesn't even seem to be a system in place to force MPs to debate or act on the most popular petitions; some might get 'picked' (presumably if they are politically advantageous), but there are no criteria to meet.

We should also ask the question - if there are issues that need to be discussed in Select Committees and Parliament, why aren't they being discussed already? What on Earth are we paying our MPs for? Are they so out of touch with the public that they don't already know what concerns their constituents? Any MP admitting to that state of affairs should quit immediately and let someone else do the job.

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