The power of e-petitions (originally introduced under Labour), but significantly beefed up under the coalition, may be diluted, according to PoliticsHome:
Sources have indicated that ministers are discussing raising the threshold for the number of signatures that a petition needs before it is considered for a House of Commons debate from 100,000 to 150,000, and moving the location of the debate itself to Westminster Hall.
Number 10 has officially denied that any changes are afoot, but a source said the move would enable to Government to avoid regular rebellions from backbenchers on issues popular with their constituents. Last month 81 Tory MPs defied a three-line whip to endorse a motion calling for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, and a second rebellion on a motion on fuel prices is expected this evening.
A source close to ministers said: “They are considering different options, including changing the threshold and moving the debates to Westminster Hall.”
In recent weeks there have been a number of high profile debates triggered by e-petitions, including on Hillsborough, the EU and fuel prices. As these debates have seen great support from Labour (i.e. Hillsborough) or discomfort for the Tories (over the EU), it will be interesting to see if No.10 genuinely plan to scale back e-petitions, and what Labour’s response might be. It does however suggest that Cameron is increasing concerned about the Tory right.
It is presumably co-incidental though, that James Forsyth today reports that the PM gave SpAds a “bollocking” over leaks, on the same day that this story was leaked…