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The Scottish Parliament and law making
The Scottish Parliament and law making

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4 How can you become involved?

As you have learnt the Scottish Parliamentary process has been designed to be as open as possible. This is reflected not only in the procedures that have been established but also in the design of the Parliament building itself. The debating chamber, which was central to the design for the Scottish Parliament, was designed to reflect the Parliament’s commitment to openness. The mace presented by the Queen at the opening of the Scottish Parliament on 1 July 1999 is engraved with the words: ‘wisdom’, ‘justice’, ‘compassion’ and ‘integrity’. These are designed to represent the aspirations of MSPs.

How can a citizen become involved in the law making process? As one of our constitutional duties citizens are expected to vote in parliamentary elections, where both MSPs and MPs are elected. In voting in those elections a citizen is becoming involved in law making (even though they may not realise this).

Figure 11 Get involved

Activity 4 How can I become involved in the law-making process of the Scottish Parliament?

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Reflect on what you have read in this course. Then make a list of all the ways in which you feel you could become involved in the law-making processes of the Scottish Parliament.

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You could have identified a number of ways of becoming involved in the law-making process. These include:

  • Taking part in the elections for MSPs – these are held every four years.
  • Writing to a parliamentary committee to give your viewpoint.
  • Using the media or social media to generate public interest in an issue and pressure Parliament to make changes to the law.
  • Writing to an MSP on a particular issue.
  • Lobbying an MSP to make an amendment to a Bill.
  • Standing for election as an MSP (you need to be over 21 and could stand as an independent candidate or as a candidate for a political party).
  • Participating in online debates using the discussion forums on the Scottish Parliament website.
  • If you have specialist knowledge you can register as a potential adviser to a committee.
  • You could submit a petition to the parliament asking for the introduction of a new law or change to an existing one (or that they look into a matter of public interest or concern).
  • You could become involved in a Cross-Party Group. These provide an opportunity for MSPs, individuals and organisations to meet and discuss areas of interest.
  • You could attend a committee event. These are held throughout Scotland to discuss issues with the public.

As you learnt earlier in the course the Scottish Parliament has achieved international recognition for its openness and the way in which it provides opportunities for its citizens to become involved.

Figure 12 Making your voice heard at the Scottish Parliament [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]