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UK.gov insists e-petitions won't be ditched

Dave says one thing, Cabinet Office another

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The future of Number 10’s online petitions website is still under consideration by government despite its absence from Martha Lane Fox’s strategic review about Directgov, released today.

A Cabinet Office spokesman told The Register that it was never the intention of Fox’s report to make direct reference to Number 10’s e-petition site, which has been in stasis since the ConDem Coalition came to power in May this year.

“Martha Lane Fox didn’t mention it and never was going to,” he told us.

That’s despite the fact that Prime Minister David Cameron told Labour MP Luciana Berger in Parliament on 16 November that a response about the site would be detailed in Fox’s report.

The future of e-petitions is being reviewed by Martha Lane Fox as part of her review of all government digital communications and engagement. The conclusions of her review will be announced shortly,” he told the MP.

Given Cameron’s comments, we thought it was a bit odd that any mention of the e-petition site had been excluded from today’s review.

“It’s not really odd,” said the CO spokesman. “It’s a very short report that gives an overview of the implications of all aspects of the work involved.”

He added that the government had already “committed” to pushing for a formal debate in Parliament for any petition that draws more than 100,000 signatures from the British public. The petition with the most signatures would then be tabled as a Bill.

Indeed, the proposal is laid out in the Coalition's recently published biz plan for the next four years.

The government said it will present its petitions proposal to the House of Commons next month and, if Parliament approves, it will have a petitioning mechanism introduced in November 2011.

What’s less clear is whether the 10 Downing Street e-petition website, which was largely ignored by the previous government, will be ditched in favour of bringing such a service under the roof of Directgov. ®

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