Select Committee on Procedure First Report

1  Introduction

1. Public Petitions and Early Day Motions (EDMs) are procedures which have developed over time in response to changing circumstances and the changing priorities of Members. Although procedurally and historically they are quite separate from each other, they do have a number of characteristics in common. Both are used by Members to bring to the attention of the House the concerns of particular groups of the population. Petitions are explicitly presented by Members on behalf of such groups. EDMs are frequently drafted by groups or organisations outside the House and then tabled by Members as demonstrations of support for them. Both procedures allow the public to engage with Parliament, either directly, by signing a Petition, or indirectly, by urging their Member of Parliament to add his or her name to an EDM.

2. These are not the only roles performed by these procedures. EDMs in particular have been used by Members for a wide range of purposes. In considering whether the current procedures governing them are appropriate and effective we must assess how well they meet the demands which Members reasonably wish to make of them. But we should do so in the context of the decision of the House in its Resolution on Connecting Parliament with the Public that 'the House should make itself more accessible, make it easier for people to understand the work of Parliament and do more to communicate its activity to the general public.'[1]

1   CJ (2004-05) 120 Back

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