Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Friday, 26 October 2012 16:58 UK
The Week in Parliament: 26 October 2012

E-petition debates were in the headlines again this week as MPs voted to scrap the proposed badger cull due to start next year.

Are e-petitions changing parliament?

The highly-charged debate was prompted by an e-petition started by rock guitarist and campaigner Brian May, which attracted more than 160,000 signatures.

But despite the vote, the coalition says it intends to go ahead with a pilot badger cull in two areas of south west England next year.

This is because votes on e-petition debates are not binding on the government.

Henry Tribe looks at the way e-petitions are changing Parliament, and whether they should have more power to change the law.

Time for more direct democracy?

What is the future for e-petitions?

E-petitions were introduced by the coalition government in August 2011 as a way of opening up democracy and acting as a "megaphone" for the public.

In their first year e-petitions attracted 36,000 petitions, with 6.4 million signatures.

Petitions signed by more than 100,000 are put forward for consideration by the backbench business committee which selects the subjects to be debated by MPs.

The results of votes on these debates are not binding on the government, and that has left some petitioners and MPs frustrated.

Keith Macdougall was joined by chair of the backbench business committee, Natascha Engel, and member of the proceedure committee, James Gray, to discuss the future of e-petitions.

Suffragettes descend on Parliament

Suffragettes fight on

Suffragettes have descended on Parliament on the day a Supreme Court judgment ruled in favour of an equal pay claim by former employees of Birmingham City Council.

In what could prove to be a landmark case, 174 former council workers can now go ahead with compensation claims over missed bonuses.

But a group of Suffragettes in period dress came to Westminster to say the fight for women's rights was still far from over.

Ros Ball went along to meet them.


Watch The Week in Parliament on BBC Parliament at 11pm on Friday 26 October, 11.05am on Sunday 28 October and 9am on Monday 29 October.

To watch the programme on iPlayer, visit the programme page.




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