The Coronavirus pandemic – as well as a new petitions website – has resulted in an unprecedented increase in the number of petitions that the Senedd has received over recent months, including those collecting large numbers of signatures.
As a result, the Petitions Committee has decided to increase the threshold which it will consider referring petitions for a debate to 10,000 signatures for all petitions closing after 1 December 2020.
Chair of the Petitions Committee, Janet Finch-Saunders MS says:
”This decision was taken after careful consideration because debating time available during Plenary is scarce, especially during the current Coronavirus pandemic when urgent business is prioritised and with the next Senedd elections due to be held in 2021. This makes it impossible for the Committee to fulfil the current level of demand for debates.
“To date, 31 petitions have passed the previous 5,000 signature threshold during 2020, far exceeding the Senedd’s ability to accommodate debates during Plenary meetings. The Committee has requested four debates during this autumn term alone.
“Therefore, we have reluctantly decided to change the threshold to help set clearer expectations for people using the petitions process about the ability for the Senedd to hold debates on petitions. We intend to review this change over the coming months and to make appropriate recommendations for the petitions process in the next Senedd.
“It is also important to emphasise that a Senedd debate is just one of many ways in which petitions can be taken forward. The Committee will continue to work hard to consider and scrutinise all petitions with more than 50 signatures, including ensuring that they receive a response from the Welsh Government. The Committee will also continue to apply its own more detailed scrutiny to many of the issues raised by petitions. The vast majority of petitions received will not be affected by this change and all current petitioners affected have been contacted to discuss their options, where appropriate.
“Many thousands of people have been inspired by recent events to engage with the Senedd, propose new ideas and policies and to make their voices heard. We’re really excited that our petitions system is working so well that we’ve received - since we revamped it in May - around 420,000 signatures to petitions.”