Work in the constituency or region

On Friday, MSPs will generally return to their constituencies and regions, ready to meet the people they represent.

Most MSPs have an office in in their constituency or region. MSPs respond to letters and emails sent to their office from local people and organisations who want their support. They attend local meetings and events where they meet and discuss important issues with groups of constituents. MSPs also hold surgeries where members of the public can go and talk with them.

They will hold surgeries where constituents can bring their problems and questions, which the MSPs will try to address. This allows them to get to grips with the local issues facing their electorate and to ensure they fairly represent them. MSPs can take on a constituent's problem in one of a number of ways: -

  • by contacting a government minister
  • by starting a debate or asking a Parliamentary question
  • by introducing a Members' Bill or proposing an amendment to a bill

Members' Bills

There are different ways laws and decisions are made in the Scottish Parliament. Along side Bills introduced by the goverment and the committees, individual MSPs can also propose Bills for parliamentary debate. Each MSP can introduce two Bills during a single Parliament. In order for the Bill to be debated, the MSP introducing the Bill first needs to secure cross-party support for it.

An example of a successful Members' Bill is the Protection of Wild Mammal (Scotland) Act 2002. The Bill was introduced by the Labour MSP Mike Watson and was supported by the SNP MSP Tricia Marwick. The Bill was passed by majority vote and banned hunting with dogs. The Bill made Scotland the first part of the UK to effectively ban fox hunting.