By Tim Montgomerie
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As of this morning the e-petitions site is live. Petitions that attract 100,000 signatures will be considered by the new backbench business committee for debate. 'Considered' is the important word. Even petitions that are vetoed for being offensive or trivial have no guarantee of Commons time.
Should ConservativeHome and other blogs be thinking of using this mechanism to get a subject debated by MPs? What should that subject be? Guido Fawkes has already promised to launch a petition to get capital punishment for child and cop killers debated. I'd be surprised if the Express didn't try and get its campaign to leave the EU into the Commons timetable.
''In recent weeks, Parliament has been at the centre of public interest, by leading the debate on phone hacking allegations. But this shouldn't mean that Parliament becomes complacent. There's much more that we can do to build confidence in the work of the House of Commons and we should continue to find new ways of encouraging people to engage. The public already have many opportunities to make their voices heard in Parliament, and this new system of e-petitions could give them a megaphone. Of course, parliamentary time is not unlimited and we want the best e-petitions to be given airtime – so we will monitor the site closely over the coming months to assess whether the 100,000 figure is an appropriate target.''