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National Service Bill Sponsor Philip Hollobone Wants People To Sign Petition Against It

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The Tory MP who has proposed a bill to reintroduce National Service has said he hopes people sign a petition against it so it qualifies for debate in parliament.

The private members bill put forward by Philip Hollobone is unlikely to ever pass as the time allocated for these type of proposed legislation is small.

But the way in which e-petitions now work could - ironcially - help him out.

philip hollobone

Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering

Hollobone told the Huffington Post UK: "I would encourage everybody to sign.

"My bill is not going to be debated because there's not enough parliamentary time in the private members bill process for my bill to be reached.

"So if this petition reaches 100,000 signatures it will give my bill a three-hour debate."

Debbie Sayers, who started the petition against the bill, is furious at the "pretty underhand" tactic.

She said: "I think that's pretty indicative of the way the Tory party works really.

"I'm a disability campaigner so we've experienced quite a lot of, shall we say, misinformation and twisting of information, not telling the truth about whats going on.

"Doing something that most of us would consider pretty underhand is actually quite normal [for him]."

The proposed legislation would make it mandatory for anyone aged 18-26 to spend a year doing charity work, caring for the elderly or serving in the armed forces.

Individuals would be paid the minimum wage and would be required to live away from home although accommodation and food would be paid for by the state.

There would be exemptions for anyone with a severe physical or mental disability.

Sayers said: "There are lots of things wrong with the bill, not to mention completely trampling over lots of equality rights.

"As it only exempts those with severe disability, there will still be lots and lots of people who do qualify.

"This isn't a problem so long as there's the funding there to supply, support and pay all the other things that go with people being disabled especially if you're going to take them out of there support and residential areas which might not have that kind of support."

Hollobone believes the bill would have "immense benefit" on the young people of Britain.

He told the Independent: "I believe that the introduction of a modern form of national service would prove popular with the public."

The bill aims to provide young people with "instruction in personal financial budgeting, household bills, nutrition, cooking, time keeping, life skills, tolerance towards others, treating elderly and disabled people with dignity and respect".

Sayers disagrees: "We have 700,000 young carers in Britain and although it's great that they may be included in something they then have to take into account all the people that need to be cared for while they're gone which is another huge expense.

"On top of that there's no exemption for single parents.

"It's not a very well written bill, it hasn't actually looked at an awful lot of the implications and the cost to the taxpayer those implications have."

The petition, at Change.org, currently has 32,670 signatories.

Brie Rogers Lowery, campaigns director at change.org UK, said: "It’s great news for our three million UK users that a former member of the back bench committee has confirmed that Change.org petitions can be considered for parliamentary debates.

"Great campaigns put those in power under pressure and Debbie’s petition has clearly done that. Mr Hollobone’s request for people to sign Debbie's petition is not an approach we’ve seen from a petition target before, but has certainly generated some extra publicity for her campaign."

The second reading of the bill will be on February 28, 2014.