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No 10 launches online petitions


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Taxing inefficient light bulbs and allowing CDs and DVDs to be copied are among the most popular petitions listed on the Downing Street website.

A scheme has been launched allowing people to petition prime minister Tony Blair online. Number 10 says it allows more campaigners than "ever before".


Iraq, ID cards, inheritance tax and making Spandau Ballet's song Gold the national anthem are among the topics.


Party political, obscene and libellous petitions will not be included.


The most popular "e-petition" so far is for an exception to copyright law, which would allow people to make copies of their CDs and DVDs.


There are several environmental ideas, from rationing petrol and diesel to taxing inefficient light bulbs - which is among the top votes.


'Stop bullying'


The issues range from the international - there are two calls for Iraq inquiries - to the local, such as reviewing the roadworks on the M1, junctions 8 to 10.


One petition is simply to "get people to stop bullying other people".


All e-petitions not put on the site would be listed in a separate section, with reasons given for their rejection, a Downing Street spokeswoman added.


The website is funded by the taxpayer, meaning party political material should not be included.


The spokeswoman said there was a "fine line" in deciding which e-petitions to reject.


She added that all paper petitions delivered to Downing Street in person would still be accepted.


No "inflammatory" statements or swear words are allowed on the site, while calls for actions "outside the remit" of the government are forbidden.


The system also prevents users from submitting the same petition twice.


Tom Steinberg, director of My Society - the charity helping to run the project - said: "We are trying to make it as transparent as possible.


"We will try to list all the rejected petitions and, even if we can't use the exact wording, if the petition is libellous, we will explain why it wasn't included."


No 10 says there are anti-spam measures and people who want to sign a petition have to give an e-mail address and a UK address including postcode, or an overseas address.


Last year, TV chef Jamie Oliver delivered a 271,677-signature petition to Mr Blair calling for improvements to school dinners.


The government later announced it was putting £280m into raising nutritional standards.


On Remembrance Sunday this year, families of service personnel killed in Iraq delivered a letter signed by about 750 relatives and veterans to Downing Street, calling for the immediate return of British troops.



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