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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!


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