UK: Death penalty, human rights, EU... what the people call for Parliament to debate as 'e-petitions' are launched
Death penalty, human rights, EU... what the people call for Parliament to debate as 'e-petitions' are launched
The death penalty, pulling out of Europe and withdrawing from the European Human Rights Act topped the agenda as the public yesterday got the chance to decide what Parliament debates.
The Government launched its ‘e-petition’ website with the promise to consider discussing any subject which attracts 100,000 signatures.
Passions ran so high that the site continually crashed as thousands sought to raise issues that politicians usually shy away from.
Other popular subjects included calls for the legalisation of cannabis and Formula One to be kept on BBC.
But last night the subject attracting the most interest, with 6,000 names, was the death penalty – with calls for and against.
Forty of the 200 most subscribed petitions called for the return of capital punishment. Seven of the top 200, including the top one with 3,000 signatures, called for it not to be reinstated. The issue now looks certain to attract enough signatures for it to be debated in Parliament for the first time since 1998, and a vote could follow.
Among the most prominent pro-death penalty e-petitions is one calling for child killers and those who murder on-duty police officers to be executed.
More than 1,000 people a minute visited the website yesterday.
Writing in the Daily Mail yesterday, the Leader of the House of Commons, Sir George Young, warned that MPs cannot ignore the popular groundswell.
But critics warned that the e-petitions would allow the Commons to be hijacked by special interest campaigns and mean MPs spending precious Parliamentary time on proposals that have little or no chance of becoming law.
Popular petitions included calls for Britain to withdraw from the EU and the European Human Rights Act, an absolute right to self defence in your own home and the decriminalisation of drugs.Others called for prisoners’ diets be restricted to bread and water as in the ‘good old days’.
Brainchild: PM's aide Steve Hilton
Fail: The highly-anticipated e-petition website crashed within hours of going liveAnd there were several bizarre petitions including demands that bodybuilding be encouraged to improve the nation’s health, and calls to make it a criminal offence to cruise along in the middle lane of motorways.
No 10’s previous e-petition site was suspended ahead of the general election then shelved by the Coalition. But it has been resurrected by David Cameron’s director of strategy, Steve Hilton, with the promise that those that attract more than 100,000 signatures will be considered for debate in Parliament.
Several Tory MPs have said they will back calls to reintroduce the death sentence. The last hangings in Britain were in 1964.
Tory MP Philip Davies said the public was sick of seeing criminals freed from prison committing further crimes.
Sir George Young wrote in the Daily Mail yesterday that the death penalty is likely to be discussed by Parliament
He said: ‘We should recognise that with advances in technology and DNA the chances of getting somebody wrong for a crime like murder is much more remote than it was in the past.
‘If at the very least this debate ends up with us going back to what we were promised at the time the death penalty was repealed – which was that murderers will spend the rest of their days in prison – then the debate will have served the country well.’
Another Tory MP, Andrew Turner, said: ‘It is about time we had a national debate in Parliament. The number of murders was about half in the 1950s.
‘The state makes the decision about drugs, it makes the decision about young men and women being sent to war and it talks about abortion. Why are those so different that this particular issue can’t be talked about?’
But fellow Tory MP Dr Kwasi Kwarteng said he would fight attempts to restore the death penalty. He said: ‘The real clincher for me is that you can always get the wrong people and that is a terrible, terrible tragedy.’
Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘Too many politicians come from safe seats which means they only answer to other politicians. They have refused to discuss a lot of issues that matter to a lot of people.’
Any petition signed by more than 100,000 UK citizens goes to the cross-party Commons backbench business committee, which will decide whether it is worthy of debate. This does not mean any parliamentary bills will be tabled as a result, simply that the matter will be discussed.
A spokesman for DirectGov, which runs the e-petitions website, acknowledged that many users had experienced difficulties.
‘We apologise for any inconvenience. This is a result of greater-than-expected demand,’ he said.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2022640/Death-penalty-human-rights-EU--people-Parliament-debate-e-petitions-launched.html#ixzz1U842jVYK
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