Cameron: I'll give power to the petition

100,000 signatures would guarantee Commons debate under Tory government

Campaigners who want to reintroduce hanging, oppose higher taxes for motorists, pull out of the EU, or any of the other causes overlooked by politicians have been promised by David Cameron that they can have their day in Parliament.

Under a Conservative government, 100,000 signatures on a petition will be enough to guarantee a debate in the House of Commons. A million signatures will give the organisers the right to put legislation in front of the Commons which MPs will have to vote on.

One of the first groups to seize on Mr Cameron's offer was the UK Independence Party, which claimed it would have "no trouble" collecting a million signatures to try to pull Britain out of the EU.

Mr Cameron, speaking yesterday at East London University on how to rebuild trust in politics, argued that as well as cleaning up Parliament, politicians have to find ways to engage people more in the political process.

He added: "It's absurd that a tiny percentage of the population craft legislation that will apply to 100 per cent of the population. Instead of locking people out of this process, we need to invite them in.

"So we'll create a right of initiative nationally, where any petition that collects 100,000 signatures will be eligible to be formally debated in the House of Commons. Any petition with a million signatures will allow members of the public to table a Bill that could end up being debated and voted on by MPs."

This opens the near-certain prospect that if the Tories win the election, MPs will have to debate a Bill on whether to pull out of the EU. Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, said: "We welcome this proposal, and if he stands by this, and a million signatures is what is required, we'll get the financial backing to organise a petition – no trouble."

MPs are also likely to find themselves having to debate whether to bring back hanging, which has not been formally debated in Parliament since May 1998, when the Commons voted to accept a clause in the European Convention on Human Rights outlawing capital punishment except in times of emergency.

There was an indication of how easily a campaign to bring back hanging could pick up the necessary 100,000 signatures in February 2008, when The Sun invited readers to vote in a poll: 99 per cent of the 95,000 respondents were in favour.

Since Downing Street introduced a facility to create online petitions under Tony Blair, there have been seven that have attracted over 100,000 signatures, one of which – a petition against the Government's proposal to consider bringing in road pricing – attracted 1.8 million in three months.

The Tories said they would stop multiple signatories from the same computer, but it was unclear how the ubiquitous "M. Mouse" and "Hugh Organ" could be barred.

* Joanne Cash, the Conservative candidate for the Westminster North seat at the election, has resigned from her post amid reports of “internal tensions” in the local party. Ms Cash resigned last night at a special meeting in her constituency. The seat, which has a projected Labour majority of 3,021, is the Tories’ number 75 target. A Tory spokesman confirmed the resignation but added that it would evaluate the decision today.

Signing up: Popular causes

Downing Street e-petitions have turned into a rough guide to the sort of causes that have support in the tens and hundreds of thousands. They were introduced halfway through Tony Blair's premiership, but only really took off after campaigners used this device to organise opposition to a government proposal to tax motorists by the mile.

The most popular Downing Street petitions, and the number of signatures they attracted, are:

*No to road pricing: 1,811,424

*Create a Remembrance Day bank holiday in November: 531,400

*Allow the Red Arrows to fly at the 2012 Olympics: 502,625

*Reduce fuel duty: 304,641

*Ban the construction of a "mega mosque": 281,882

*Scrap inheritance tax: 128,622

*Create a dedicated military and veterans hospital: 113,979

*Don't scrap childcare vouchers: 93,626

*Make Jeremy Clarkson prime minister: 49,457

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager - £70,000 OTE

£35000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager (Vice President...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Marketing Executive i...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable