1000 up – Senedd Petitions Committee reaches major milestone

Published 15/09/2020   |   Last Updated 20/11/2020   |   Reading Time minutes

The Petitions Committee will consider its 1000th petition on Tuesday, 15 September, marking a milestone for a system of opening up democracy for the people of Wales.

  • ​1000th petition calls for compulsory teaching of Black and People of Colour UK histories in the Welsh education curriculum
  • New petitions system has seen large increase in petitions to the Senedd
  • Petitions have led to changes in Welsh law, government policy and funding

The petition calls for the compulsory teaching of the history of black and ethnic minority people in Wales in all Welsh schools.

The petition has gathered more than 34,000 signatures and, as such, the Committee will consider whether it would be best progressed through a debate by the full Senedd during Plenary.

It is also the second largest petition received during the Fifth Senedd.

Lead petitioner, Angharad Owen, said:

“I started the petition in June amid global demonstrations against racism in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. This period of change and upheaval offers a crucial opportunity for the Senedd to act on the necessity of including BAME histories in the Welsh education curriculum.

“I strongly believe that every student in Wales should have the opportunity to learn about the history of their own culture in the classroom, and that we should be actively celebrating the proud multi-cultural and diverse histories of Wales in the national curriculum.

“The Senedd has been brilliant in keeping me informed on developments and has always been prepared and diligent in answering my questions to them. I am excited to see the next steps for the petition and look forward to seeing it being discussed on the 15th of September.”

During the Coronavirus crisis and resultant lockdown, the number of petitions submitted to the Senedd has increased dramatically along with the number of signatures to those petitions.

In this Senedd term so far (2017-2021) more than 386 petitions have been accepted.

A new online petitions system was introduced in April this year, making it even easier for people to start and sign petitions. Since its introduction 118 new petitions have been submitted and more than 212,000 thousand signatures gathered.

Many petitions are responses to current events, for instance, Coronavirus, the Black Lives Matter movement or exam results.

Many others are specific to local areas – the largest petition considered by the Committee in the Fifth Assembly/Senedd term was ‘Pembrokeshire says NO!! To the closure of Withybush A&E!’ which collected more than 40,000 signatures.

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Janet Finch-Saunders MS said:

“The petitions system is one of the most accessible and direct ways people can raise awareness of an issue that concerns them or promote a new policy or course of action in Wales.

“Petitions have led to changes in the law or even new laws, and have forced governments to change their policies or provide funding for specific issues.

“The Petitions Committee is able to bring petitioners’ concerns directly to the attention of the Welsh Government and other relevant organisations, and to scrutinise their actions in response. During this Senedd we have considered in detail a significant number of petitions, taken evidence from petitioners and organisations, published reports inquiries and held debates to highlight important issues and contribute towards real change for people in Wales.”

The inaugural Petitions Committee held its first meeting on 4 July 2007 and could consider any petition concerning an issue devolved to Wales.

An e-petitions system was introduced in April 2008 allowing people to start or sign petitions online rather than in writing. The Petitions Committee has accepted both online and paper petitions since.

To be considered by the Committee, a petition must meet the petitions rules for example, it must concern an issues that is devolved to Wales, and must have at least 50 signatures.

The Petitions Committee can decide to request a debate in Plenary on petitions with more than 5,000 signatures.