16 Nov 2011 12:37:57

"Fuel duty is not just about economics, it's an issue of social justice" says Robert Halfon

By Joseph Willits 
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HalfonYesterday Robert Halfon's motion urging the Government to consider scrapping any further increases in fuel duty passed without a division. The debate was forced by an e-petition, which attracted over 100,000 signatures.  Halfon had the backing of The Sun's Keep It Down campaign and FairFuelUK group led by Quentin Wilson.

The Government's abolition of the fuel escalator was welcomed by Halfon, as was the introduction of a semi-stabiliser so "that duty will rise quicker than inflation only if oil prices are low for a sustained period". This had meant that motorists were already making savings of £274 a year on average, in this parliament compared to a different outcome of a Labour re-election. However, Halfon said, Britain's petrol prices "are still the most expensive in Europe. Even bankrupt socialist nations such as Spain now have lower rates of fuel tax than Britain".

Continue reading ""Fuel duty is not just about economics, it's an issue of social justice" says Robert Halfon" »

31 Oct 2011 07:34:32

A fourth e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures - on financial education

By Matthew Barrett
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Screen shot 2011-07-29 at 09.00.22The government e-petition website has been in the news recently, following the Commons debate on a European referendum in which an e-petition on the subject was regularly cited as justification for a referendum (erroneously, as it happens - the leading e-petition calling for a European referendum has just over 39,000 signatures, which is some way short of the 100,000 needed to be considered for debate in the House).

A fourth e-petition has just joined the ranks of those with 100,000 signatures or more - "Make financial education a compulsory part of the school curriculum". 

The text of the petition is as follows:

"It's a national disgrace that in the 20 years since introducing student loans, we’ve educated our youth into debt when they go to university, but never about debt. We're a financially illiterate nation, with millions caught by misselling, overborrowing and being ripped off. Is it any surprise we’ve just had a debt imbued financial crisis. This must change. Companies spend billions on marketing and teaching their staff to sell – it's time we got buyers' training. The most cost effective way to start is to ensure every child in the country gets a basic understanding of personal finance & consumer rights before leaving school. This isn’t a large resource requirement. Some schools already do it, but the majority don’t and that needs to end. Unless it's compulsory, head teachers can’t prioritise for it. 97% of people support this, yet no one will take up the baton. We have one of the world’s most complex consumer economies; it's time our children were taught how to thrive and survive in it."

Continue reading "A fourth e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures - on financial education" »

23 Aug 2011 11:47:48

E-petition launched to review the smoking ban - and the 10 most popular e-petitions so far

By Matthew Barrett
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A new e-petition has been launched today by chef and broadcaster Anthony Worrall Thompson, calling on the government to review the smoking ban - a policy generally unpopular with ConHome readers. The text of the petition is:

"We petition the Government to review the impact of the smoking ban on pubs and clubs and consider an amendment that would give licensees the option of separate well-ventilated smoking rooms."

This is also an opportune moment to take a look at the top ten most popular e-petitions so far. They are listed below, with the figure on the right denoting the number of signatures collected:

  1. Convicted London rioters should loose all benefits - 217,921
  2. Full disclosure of all government documents relating to 1989 Hillsborough disaster - 109,482
  4. Make financial education a compulsory part of the school curriculum - 40,069
  5. Petition to retain the ban on Capital Punishment - 24,822
  6. Keep Formula 1 Free To Air in the UK - 21,301
  7. Britain wants referendum to leave EU - 21,252
  8. Restore Capital Punishment - 16,996
  9. Public & Private Pension Increases - change from RPI to CPI - 16,756 
  10. Increase policing DONT CUT IT - 9,366

> Robert Halfon MP - whose e-petition is the third most popular - wrote about his e-petition for us on Sunday

30 Jul 2011 10:54:05

Priti Patel, Philip Davies and Andrew Turner support Guido's campaign to bring back the death penalty

By Matthew Barrett
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The blogger Guido Fawkes has launched a campaign to bring back the death penalty, in light of the government's proposed "e-petition" scheme. "E-petitions" mean members of the public can post petitions on a dedicated government website, and petitions attracting 100,000 electronic signatories will be "eligible for debate in the House of Commons".

The petition says:

"We petition the government to review all treaties and international commitments which may inhibit the ability of Parliament to restore capital punishment. Following this review, the Ministry of Justice should map out the necessary legislative steps which will be required to restore the death penalty for the murder of children and police officers when killed in the line of duty.

The findings of the review and the necessary substantive legislation to be presented to House of Commons for debate no later than 12 months after this petition passes the acceptance threshold."

Continue reading "Priti Patel, Philip Davies and Andrew Turner support Guido's campaign to bring back the death penalty" »

28 Dec 2010 13:58:36

What would you and 99,999 friends like MPs to debate?

Tim Montgomerie

Screen shot 2010-12-28 at 13.57.33 Jonathan Isaby reported the fact on 2nd December but this morning's Guardian, in a Christmas stocking filler, revisited the Coalition's intention to press ahead with plans to give voters the right to demand debates on certain hot topics. It is expected that MPs will be required to debate issues if approximately 100,000 voters sign an online petition.

Dan Hannan wants MPs to vote on whether Britain should stay a member of the EU.

Guido Fawkes wants MPs to be put on record for supporting or opposing "capital punishment for child and cop killers".

No doubt the NUS will want to force MPs to vote on their preferred alternative to tuition fees.

Archbishop Cranmer lists other Bills he expects popular petitions to force MPs to debate:

  • "An Immediate Cessation of Immigration Bill
  • An Introduction of Sharia Law Bill
  • A Scotland Indepedence Bill (with a very easy million signatures)
  • A United Ireland Bill (again, with a very easy million signatures)
  • A Disestablish the Church of England Bill
  • A Removal of the Vote from Guests of Her Majesty Bill
  • A Ban on Mosque-building Bill."

Cranmer predicts that disaffection with MPs will become greater as they repeatedly reject motions that they are forced to debate.

Douglas Carswell MP welcomes the initiative (one he and Dan Hannan proposed in their 'Plan' manifesto). He rejects the idea that voters can't be trusted with direct democracy:

"What direct democracy would not do is lead to mob rule.  If you give adults responsibility, they tend to behave not only responsibly, but in a fair-minded, liberal way.  It is worth reflecting that the death penalty has more often been abolished by plebiscite, than it has been introduced."

> On a poor phone line I had a ninety second slot on this morning's Today programme to welcome the petitions idea. Labour MP Paul Flynn responded by predicting that the mechanism would be "dominated by the obsessed and the fanatical and we will get crazy ideas coming forward.” Such respect for voters!