MP calls for new Commons rules on electronic petitions

Parliamentary democracy could be dragged into the Internet age following a proposal by one MP.

Parliamentary democracy could be dragged into the Internet age following a proposal by one MP.

Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat shadow social security secretary, has called for new rules to be introduced to the Commons to allow MPs to submit electronic petitions from constituents to the Government.

Current parliamentary rules require MPs to produce a handwritten and a printed copy of petitions from people in their constituency.

Webb, who recently tabled an early day motion on the subject, said, "Members of the public should have the opportunity to register their support for petitions electronically if they wish."

Electronic petitions would help to increase public involvement in the democratic process, Webb believes. He has placed a petition on his Web site urging the Government to consult Parliament before taking military action against Iraq.

"I have insisted that signatories be constituents and that they provide their names and addresses as well as e-mail address," Webb explained. "These I can then verify against the electoral register."

A parliamentary spokesman confirmed that he will be drawing Webb's early day motion to the attention of the House of Commons procedure committee.

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