You’ll no doubt have seen news stories in which an online petition has been launched in a bid to force the UK Government to take action on a particular issue, or at least consider it.
Anyone can launch their own online petition on the Government website, provided he or she is a British citizen or UK resident and can find at least five supporters to get the petition started. The Government will check that the petition meets it standards and, if it does, will publish it on the website, where it will remain for six months.
Other British citizens or UK residents can then sign the petition online, but only once. Obviously, petitions which receive a lot of publicity are likely to attract much more support. Any petition which receives 10,000 signatures will generate a response from the Government, which is published on the website alongside the petition. If a petition receives 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for a debate in Parliament.
Currently on the website, there are 18,864 petitions listed, of which 2,495 are open for signatures, covering a wide variety of topics. The Government has responded to 224 petitions and a further 23 are awaiting a response, while 28 have been debated in Parliament and a further 34 are awaiting a Parliamentary debate (all figures correct at time of writing).
However, almost 15,594 petitions have been rejected by the Petitions Committee, because they do not meet the required standards. For example, the reason for the petition might be unclear, it might duplicate another petition already open, it might be about something the Government has no responsibility for, it might be “nonsense or a joke”, it might be offensive, libellous or refer to active criminal proceedings.
For each petition that is rejected, an explanation is given why, most frequently because there is already another petition open for the same thing. For example, scores of people recently tried to open petitions about fireworks, either calling for them to be banned, made quieter/silent, or sold only to trained and licensed technicians. However, below are 25 of the more ‘unusual’ refused petitions, for which no explanation is really necessary:
- Make all energy drinks £1 and all Freddo chocolate bars back to 15p
- Petition to make demonical a word (no explanation is offered as to what it means, except “it should be a word”)
- Get the word ‘poggers’ in the Oxford dictionary (again, no explanation is offered about its meaning)
- Make Friday part of the weekend
- Change most school rules
- Stop the media from talking about covid or coronavirus
- Get vampire diaries back on Netflix
- Reintroduce eduction (sic) slowly
- Make wood week a national holiday
- Replace Lewis Hamilton’s seat in Formula 1 with Max Verstappen
- Lewis Hamilton should be knighted
- Allow Strictly Come Dancing to continue for the nation’s mental health
- Move Christmas to July
- Ban the marketing of ‘stew with a hat’ as ‘pie’ in restaurants
- Make cannibalism illegal in the UK so that no human meat is imported to the UK
- Make David Attenborough a Saint
- Allow online petitions to Parliament to have more than 80 characters in the titl
- Stop Guinness making an alcohol-free version
- Make Larry the Cat Prime Minister
- Force Gordon Brown to become Prime Minister again
- Affirm that Doncaster is legally part of Scotland
- Instruct society to make David Mitchell of the Peep Show the next ‘spoof’ Bond
- Put Wilfried Bony on the new first class stamp
- Make Preston the capital city
- A permanent statue of Freddie Mercury to be put on the 4th plinth
To find out more about the UK Government and Parliament online petitions service, including how to start your own, click here.