Sunday, March 17, 2013

On the nature of E-petitions!!

I'm conscious all this mention of E-petitions must be downright confusing to some foreign readers, so I thought that, out of courtesy, it might be worth explaining what all the fuss is about!!

I suppose, in a sense, this is  "technological progress", although it's not quite replaced what went before, at least not yet! Remember being approached to sign a petition about changing something or another?  Well this is the computer equivalent, but on a targetted subject about which you, or a group of you, are concerned about and wish the UK Government to take action upon. The UK Government has set up a system whereby you can lay down a petition requesting their action and the popularity of the subject is then gauged by the number of signatures from UK residents which it gains. If over 100,000 signatures are gained/received, the topic is considered by a Back Bench Committee with the possible outcome being that the matter is debated in Parliament.

That's setting things out in their simplest form!!  There are one or two "checks and balances", and reaching the above threshold doesn't necessarily mean the topic will be debated or that legislation will result. I suppose this is modern day democracy in action and it is incumbent  upon the person(s)  promoting the topic to advertise it widely and gain the appropriate level of support. Cynics would argue the Government of the day can still ignore the matter and proceed with a less popular choice, but at least the public has been given its chance to voice its opinion. All very idealistic, modern, novel even!  Clearly the more parallel action that accompanies the petition process,  the more the Members of Parliament will be conscious of the public's level of feeling on the matter.  So promotion is important, if not critical to the whole process. Whatever the outcome, if there is a reasonable expression of concern or opposition to some existing situation, there is a clear message being "transferred" to those in power that change is being demanded.  To ignore such sincere expression is foolhardy as dis-satisfaction can result in an elector's voting preferences being influenced and existing Government's candidates not receiving support on the occasion of the next election.

All this is simply common sense and, it has to be said, not all petitions necessarily stand for something that is universally acceptable. I might proclaim that the Pope ought to wear green shoes, but I suspect it would not result in much interest from a majority of the UK electorate or rate as a subject in which the present UK Government can take action anyway. Probably it would be filtered out early on in the submission process too!!    

So that is what is associated with the E-petition I have recently registered aimed at drawing attention to totally unacceptable levels of bird of prey persecution and the need for those responsible, and the commercial activities they are connected with, to be regulated through a licensing system. If the licensing system is breached by proof of illegal activities taking place, then the "operating licences" are withdrawn.
This is not just something that "birders" should be concerned about. It is a topic that everyone has a right to express an opinion on given it is our wildlife heritage which is being reduced by  factions within the shooting fraternity who are operating to laws of their own choosing.  Birders and conservationists by all means register your feelings, but also wives, sisters, grandma's and granddads, friends and colleagues who find the current circumstances both reprehensible and unacceptable.


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