UK Government and Parliament
How petitions work
- You create a petition. Only British citizens and UK residents can create or sign a petition.
- You get 5 people to support your petition. We’ll tell you how to do this when you’ve created your petition.
- We check your petition, then publish it. We only reject petitions that don’t meet the standards for petitions.
- The Petitions Committee reviews all petitions we publish. They select petitions of interest to find out more about the issues raised. They have the power to press for action from government or Parliament.
- At 10,000 signatures you get a response from the government.
- At 100,000 signatures your petition will be considered for a debate in Parliament.
Petitions which reach 100,000 signatures are almost always debated. But we may decide not to put a petition forward for debate if the issue has already been debated recently or there’s a debate scheduled for the near future. If that’s the case, we’ll tell you how you can find out more about parliamentary debates on the issue raised by your petition.
MPs might consider your petition for a debate before it reaches 100,000 signatures.
We may contact you about the issue covered by your petition. For example, we sometimes invite people who create petitions to take part in a discussion with MPs or government ministers, or to give evidence to a select committee. We may also write to other people or organisations to ask them about the issue raised by your petition.
The Petitions Committee
The Petitions Committee can:
- write to you for more information
- invite you to talk to the Committee in person about your petition – this could be in Parliament or somewhere else in the UK
- ask for evidence from the Government or other relevant people or organisations
- press the government for action
- ask another parliamentary committee to look into the topic raised by a petition
- put forward a petition for debate
The Petitions Committee is set up by the House of Commons. It comprises up to 11 backbench Members of Parliament from Government and Opposition parties. The number of committee members from each political party is representative of the membership of the House of Commons as a whole.
Standards for petitions
We’ll only reject your petition if it’s:
- similar to an existing petition
- not clear what you’re asking for
- about something that the UK Government or Parliament is not responsible for
- about something that’s the responsibility of a devolved body (eg the Scottish Parliament)
- about a purely personal issue
- confidential, libellous, false or defamatory
- contains language that may cause offence, or is provocative or extreme in its views deceptive or misleading
- advertising or spam
- nonsensical, or a joke
- party political
- about honours or appointments – there’s a different way to nominate someone for an honour
- breaks the law or violates intellectual property rights
- covered by a court order, injunction or is about a case that’s active in the UK courts
- potentially confidential, commercially sensitive or might cause someone distress or financial loss
- names people working in public bodies (except for senior management)
- names family members of elected officials or people working in public bodies
- names someone who has been accused of a crime, or contains information that may identify them
- a Freedom of Information (FOI) request – there’s a different way to make an FOI request
If we reject your petition, we’ll tell you why. If we can, we’ll suggest other ways you could raise your issue.
We publish the text of petitions that we reject, as long as they’re not illegal, offensive or confidential.
If you have any other questions, please get in touch.
All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except where otherwise stated