Following HS2 being passed by the House of Commons, the Phase 1 Hybrid Bill now moves on to the House of Lords. The period to deposit petitions to the Lords has already opened, and runs until 5pm on Monday 18th April.
The good news is threefold; first there petitioning the Lords for HS1 saw quite a few positive outcomes, secondly the language you have to write the petition in is more modern, but most importantly petitioning the House of Lords is easier in that you don’t have to physically turn up.
You can actually deposit your petition by email or post, though with email please don’t leave emailing until the last minute as you have to send a PDF document with your scanned signature. Also, it is recommended that you ring the office on 020 7219 2468 to make sure your petition has been received as occasionally genuine emails may be marked as spam.
As email versions must include a PDF copy of your signed petition, so please make sure you can actually do this before you decide this is what you intend to do, as other scanned image files will not be accepted.
If you do send your petition by email, you still have to follow it up by sending a copy in the post, though that can be after the 18th April deadline. If you have sent an emailed version, the follow-up postal version should contain your petition reference number, so you have to wait until you have that before sending it. The one downside is you still have to pay £20 for the privilege of petitioning, whether you did or didn’t petition the Commons, again this can be sent in the post after the deadline has passed.
If you are only sending a postal version it obviously does not need the reference number, as you only get one of those on the first receipt of the petition. Again, postal submissions should not be left until the last minute. Proof of postage will not be accepted if a petition arrives after the petitioning deadline.
We have inquired with the Lords Private Bill Office and they will also accept faxes of petitions. The fax number is 020 7219 2571, but they have asked that you ring before faxing as they might not be in the office where the machine is. The phone number is 020 7219 2468.
There are some other changes between petitioning the Commons and Lords.
- Parish Councils and Action Groups need to appoint an agent, though obviously that can be anyone, eg one of the councillors.
- As mentioned, the wording of the petition is simpler, but again there are some bits that must be there. A sample petition can be found here.
- As mentioned you can post or email petitions. By post they must be sent to House of Lords Private Bill Office, House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Emailed petitions must the be posted afterwards, with the petition reference number, but this can be after the deadline as long as the email one beats the deadline. Petitions which are only posted do not need the reference number.
- You have to be over 18, but an adult can submit a petition on behalf of someone under 18.
- If you were a Roll B agent, you have to re-register again. However, it has been confirmed that if you were a Roll B agent in the Commons process, you will not need another certificate of respectability.
- If you want to physically turn up to deposit your petition, you have to go to Committee Room 2A, on the same corridor in the House of Commons as where Commons petitions where heard. However, instead of just turning up, you have to book an appointment via this form or by ringing 020 7219 2468. The opening hours will be 10-5, but on 13th April they will stay open until 9pm.
- The £20 can be paid in only two ways, either cash or cheque made payable to “The House of Lords Account”.
- Parish Councils need to provide a copy of the minutes of the meeting (or the extract of the minutes) agreeing to petition against the bill. If the council resolved the ‘Petition against aspects of the Bill’ or to ‘Petition Parliament’, when petitioning the Commons, those minutes can be re-used. If the council resolved to ‘Petition the Commons’, a new resolution to ‘Petition the Lords’ will have to be passed.
- Organisations such as Action Groups only have to provide minutes of a decision to petition if this is required in their constitution, if they have one.
We have had a few queries about whether or not people have to name specific clauses of the bill. The Lords Office has confirmed you do not, you can simply say you are petitioning against the whole bill.
The relevant documents can be found here. The first two are word documents, the others are PDFs:
A presentation prepared by Sharpe Pritchard for Warwickshire County Council on petitioning the Lords can be found here.