A petition calling for the licencing of game shoots which was lodged on the Assembly website was coldly received by Assembly Members, having only received 119 signatures and only 24 from within Wales. The Countryside Alliance has called for the Assembly to consider only petitions submitted in this fashion, because it guarantees transparency.
In June 2018, following a spate of anti-shooting petitions, the Alliance met the chair of the Petitions Committee David Rowlands AM to call for the process of petitioning to be reviewed. The Alliance suggested that petitions should be submitted in a format that allows the signatures to be scrutinised to ensure they contain signatures from the people of Wales, or at the very least from the UK, before the Assembly commits to using valuable time and resources discussing them.
Following this series of meetings, the Alliance were advised that future petitions would need to be lodged on the Assembly website in full view of the general public, and not hidden on “mass petitioning” websites such as Change.org.
This change has not yet been formally adopted, but the impact would be considerable. An anti-shooting petition presented to the Assembly in April 2018 claimed over 12,700 signatures. The petition discussed on the 11th December, calling for the licensing of driven game shooting, was registered using the Assembly website and subject to far greater scrutiny, and received less than 1% of that number. 80% of the 119 signatures on this latest petition reside outside of Wales.
Rachel Evans Director for Wales said: “It was evident at Tuesday’s committee session that the committee members are treating these petitions with ever greater caution. When prompted by the chair David Rowlands AM to respond to the petition and its 24 Welsh signatures, the committee fell completely silent.
“This is a positive development at the Assembly, where a petition to end pheasant shooting on NRW managed land, which received signatures presented on an external website that were not able to be scrutinised for origin and authenticity, was recently treated with undue significance.
“The Alliance will continue to lobby the Assembly to consider only petitions lodged on the Assembly website, where they can be subject to proper scrutiny. We now know that such transparency can reduce the number of signatures on anti-shooting petitions by up to 99%.”