Britons call for looters to lose benefits

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An online petition calling for looters and rioters to have their state welfare handouts withdrawn has proved so popular that the British government website hosting it crashed Wednesday.

More than 78,000 people had signed the petition by the time it crashed, amid a growing sense of a popular fightback against the wave of lawless violence that has swept across English cities this week.

If 100,000 people sign the petition, it would trigger a process that could end with lawmakers voting in parliament on the plan.

"No taxpayer should have to contribute to those who have destroyed property, stolen from their community and shown a disregard for the country that provides for them," the petition reads.

Normally on their summer break, Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled lawmakers to parliament to debate the surge of thuggery that started in London but has since spread to other cities.

There is little chance of there being a full debate on the proposal, though, as petitions hitting the landmark must first go through the backbench business committee, which decides certain motions for parliamentary debates.

"We needed a fightback and a fightback is underway," Cameron said Thursday.

A notice posted on the web page said: "Sorry if you're experiencing problems accessing e-petitions. There is currently a much higher level of demand than we expected."

Other popular petitions call for the price of fuel to be cut and both for and against restoring the death penalty.

© 2011 AFP

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