How Laws Are Made

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One of Parliament’s main roles is debating and passing laws,  and Parliament’s public website has an excellent guide to the process, describing all the different types of Bills and Secondary Legislation.

You can find the guide here: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/

Campaigning: Petitions

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Presenting a petition to 10 Downing Street in person

Petitioning 10 Downing Street can be a simple and effective way of publicising a cause.

Presenting a petition to 10 Downing Street can provide an excellent photo opportunity and highlight a campaign in a way that could be attractive to your local press. It’s also a relatively simple thing to organise.  Please note, however, that the Prime Minister never meets petitioners – even if they are cute children or war veterans.

  • In the first instance, all petition requests go to have to go to the Downing Street Liaison Office.  You can ring them on 0203 276 2934 between 0700 and 1500 hrs but it is better to email the full details to PaDPMailbox-DSLO@met.police.uk at least two weeks in advance of the date you wish to hand over your petition.
  • Petitions can be delivered available 365 days a year, Monday to Sunday 0900 – 1800 hrs, exceptn on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings up until 1430 hrs.  The Metropolitan Police will make every effort to facilitate arrangements and delivery of the petition; however matters of State must take precedence. As a result alterations to booked arrangements might be made with short notice, in such cases, petitions may be delayed, accepted at the gate, or you may be offered an alternative appointment.
  • Time slots for delivering petitions are allocated by the Police, so you will need to ask them which times are available.  The Police have a lot of people to accommodate, so if your desired time slot is not available, please be flexible.  The earlier you apply, the more chance you have of getting the time you want.
  • The Police will email you a form to complete and return to them.  Petition Forms MUST reach their office allowing seven (7) full and clear working days before its delivery date to enable the Metropolitan Police to make the necessary arrangements with Downing Street, and enable security checks to be completed.
  • No more than six petitioners will be permitted entry to Downing Street.  MPs, Peers, accredited cameramen and press do not count as petitioners.  However, you must notify the Metropolitan Police if such persons will be accompanying your petition party.  Please note that MP’s staff/interns must be included in the six petitioners.
  • The Metropolitan Police recognise the importance of these events to petitioners and will endeavour to facilitate photography or film recording of the occasion where possible.
  • All petitioners must bring photographic ID such as a passport or driving licence with them on the day.
  • No placards, banners, loudhailers or fancy dress or any props will be permitted.  National costume will not be excluded.
  • Downing Street will only accept a maximum petition of one 2500 sheet box of A4 paper through the door of No 10.  The remainder should be sent to 9 Howick Place, SW1P 1AA.
  • On the relevant day and time, attend the front gates of Downing Street and introduce yourself to the Police Officer on duty at the pedestrian gate.  The officer will direct you and your party through security search prior to delivery of the petition.  Please note: all petitioners will be subject to a search as a condition of entry into Downing Street.
  • If Downing Street can’t accept the petition, they’ll write to you to explain why.  You can then edit and resubmit your petition.  Once it’s approved, you’ll be emailed and informed – usually within five working days.
  • Remember, your constituents have probably come a long way to petition the Prime Minister.  If you can, give them a short tour of the Palace and buy them a drink in the Terrace Cafeteria.  Make them feel they have had a day out!

e-Petitions

Any British Citizen or UK resident can start a petition, and you will need five other people to support the application.  Simply go to https://petition.parliament.uk/ and follow the instructions on that page.  There is an 80 character limit for the title of your petition and you need to be very clear what you are asking the Government to do.  Once you have submitted the title, the next page will ask you to provide further detail on what you want the Government or Parliament to do, and why you want them to do it.  You can find further information on how petitions work here: https://petition.parliament.uk/help#standards

Once your petition is live, you will be able to publicise it and anyone will be able to come to the website and sign it.  They will be asked to give their name and address and an email address that can be verified.  The system is designed to identify duplicate names and addresses, and will not allow someone to sign a petition more than once.  Anyone signing a petition will be sent an email asking them to click a link to confirm that they have signed the petition.  Once they have done this, their name will be added to the petition.

Your petition will show the total number of signatures received.  It will also display the names of signatories, unless they have opted not to be shown.

If a petition receives more than 10,000 signatures, then it will receive a response from the Government.  If it receives more than 100,000 signatures, then it will be considered for debate in the House of Commons.

Downing Street will email the petition organiser and everyone who has signed the petition via the website giving details of the Government’s response.

Ask your MP to present a public petition to Parliament

A public petition is a petition to the House of Commons presented by an MP.  They must ask clearly for the House of Commons to take some action.  A petition cannot request a grant or charge, but it can ask for a change in policy.

There is detailed guidance on how to do this on the parliament website: https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/sign-a-petition/paper-petitions/

One thing that page doesn’t tell you, is that the declaratory paragraph can only be one single sentence.  Many petitions get round this by using semicolons to separate out the different parts.  For example “This petition notes that xxx; further that yyy; and further that zzz“.

Once a Public Petition has been accepted, it will be printed in Hansard, as will the Government’s response once it has been issued.

Guide to All Party Parliamentary Groups

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Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Registering a Group
  3. Notifying changes
  4. Administration of Groups
  5. Meetings

1. Introduction

All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are essentially groups with cross-party membership of MPs and Peers, which meet to discuss, campaign on and promote a certain issue.  MPs often find that forming and chairing an APPG can be an effective part of a parliamentary campaign, as it can act as an extra vehicle with which to spread awareness of the issue within parliament and as a springboard to events and publicity.  Chairmanship of a prominent group can occasionally give serious status to the holder; the Chair of the APPG for Beer and Pubs was known informally for some years as the Minister for Fun.

There are hundreds of All Party Groups, covering almost every interest and issue you could imagine, and ranging in scope from the niche APPG for Parkrun to the huge APPG for Africa.

All groups must be properly registered with the Registrar’s Office and listed on the register, which is updated roughly every 6 weeks when the Commons is sitting.  You can see the current Register here: https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/standards-and-financial-interests/parliamentary-commissioner-for-standards/registers-of-interests/register-of-all-party-party-parliamentary-groups/

Despite their usefulness, APPGs are relatively informal compared with other cross-party bodies such as Select Committees of the House, (whose membership is decided by election, who are staffed through the Clerks’ Office and whose Chairs are paid an extra salary).  Any reports produced by an APPG may be co-authored by an external sponsorship organisation, and should not be confused with a Select Committee report which will be signed off purely by MPs.

2. Registering a Group

The administration of the Register is maintained by the Assistant Registrar in the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (ext. 3738).  To be included on the Register or on the Approved List (see below) a group must first complete the Registration Form for APPGs.

Once registered, the group is sent the Rules on APPGs, which sets out the rules on the day-to-day conduct of registered groups.  If you have been asked to administer a Group, it is worth reading the Rules – or reacquainting yourself with the recently updated Guide – to ensure you know what Groups can and cannot do.  If you know the Rules, you will be in a better position to advise the officers and members of the Group.

3. Notifying changes

Once registered, groups are required to notify the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards of any change required to their Register entry within 28 days of such a change arising.  Each group’s Register entry shows its title, officers, financial and material assistance received from outside Parliament, and relevant occupations of its staff.

4. Administration of Groups

All Party Groups are run by the group’s officers and their staff, sometimes with help from external organisations who may provide funding for receptions or staff to run the group.  The amount of work a Group generates depends entirely on how active it is.  Some groups may only meet a couple of times a year and have very little output; others meet far more frequently and may engage in a range of activities, such as hosting events, conducting inquiries and publishing reports.  If you have been asked to coordinate a Group, you should take your lead from the group’s officers as to what they want to do and how they want to do it, as no two groups are the same.

5. Meetings

Whenever you organise a meeting for an All Party Group, make sure you notify the Government Whips Office by emailing allpartynotice@parliament.uk, so that it can be included on the Weekly All-Party Notice.  This is essential for AGMs though not compulsory for ordinary meetings.  However, most Members of the House of Commons and Lords read the All-Party Notices so it is a good way of promoting the meetings.  The All-Party Notices are emailed to all MPs every Thursdays with the weekly business and the deadline for submitting a notice is 5pm the day before (Wednesday).

You can see more information on All-Party Parliamentary Groups here: http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/apg/