A petition is a formal written request from one or more people to the Sovereign or Parliament. Petitions may be sent to the Parliament and can be presented formally by an MP with a short speech or informally in the Petition Bag which hangs on the back of the Speaker’s Chair.
Petitions have a long history as members of the public have used them to make their feelings known about issues that concern them. A petition is often signed by several thousand people and Parliament receives over a thousand each year. Because the tradition of petitions is an ancient one, the rules them can be seen out of date, for example up until very recently a petition had to be hand written and begin with the words “To the honourable, the Commons of the United Kingdom in Parliament assembled.”