Online Petitions to Parliament Still Not a Reality

With the help of mySociety.org, the Prime Minister’s office in the United Kingdom established an online petitions process in late 2006 to augment the ability of U.K. citizens to petition the Prime Minister.  There is a similar written petitions process handled by the U.K. Parliament, but as Reuters notes, it has not yet established an online presence.  Apparently costs are an issue, but since it appears that mySociety.org developed the system on contract with the Prime Minister’s office, I’m at a loss as to what the specific cost issues are.

mySociety.org has repurposed the system for use by local councils, so is there a significant scaling issue behind the supposed 4 million pound annual cost?  The petitions system for the Prime Minister has handled up to 200,000 registrations in a single day, and over 10.5 million people signing petitions in three years.  With only 120 petitions submitted this past year to Parliament, it just seems like there are some striking inefficiencies at hand that prevent the rest of the legislative branch from following the Prime Minister’s lead.  Am I missing something?

UK Cross-Party Science Policy Debates Will Continue

I’ve seen only bits and pieces of reaction to last night’s cross-party science policy debate in Cambridge.  Not wanting to comment on tweets and reactions to sound bites, I’ll hold off on further discussion until I see some more material, or access the webcast.

I will note that apparently the three parties’ science representatives (Lord Drayson for Labour, MP Adam Afriyie for the Conservatives, and MP Dr. Evan Harris for the Liberal Democrats, will do this again.  The Campaign for Science & Engineering in the U.K. announced on their website that another cross-party debate will take place on 13 January at the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

These debates are taking place in the context on a pending Parliamentary election, which must take place by May of 2010.  The current Labour government is under fire, and at a minimum is expected to lose seats, if not outright power.