Open Government

Just how open is it?

HMG has gone to some lengths to make it appear that they are opening up government to the British public. I say “make it appear” because all is not as it may seem.

Take, for instance, E-Petitions. Pretty well anyone can set up a petition for just about anything (and yes there are are some really stupid ones around), but in general most are because someone has a genuine concern that they feel needs to be addressed by parliament.

Common thinking is that once an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures it automatically gets debated in the House of Commons. Not so!

That milestone is just the beginning. There are a number of reasons why, even after obtaining the support of a huge number of people, a petition may go absolutely nowhere.

For a fuller picture of the whole process (and to see where it can fail) take a look at this flowchart…

e-Petitions and the Backbench Business Committee

So much for Open Government.

So, the next time you think an e-petition is a good way to get politicians to listen, you may want to think again.

During the present governments term of office 10 e-petitions have reached the 100,000 mark, 7 of these have been debated in Parliament. An e-petition calling on the Government to drop its Health and Social Care Bill was considered outside the criteria for debate [refer to flowchart] and was not scheduled. The question of how many e-petitions were successful in their aim remains unanswered.

HoC Commission correspondence:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e_petitions_debated#outgoing-199074
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