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Engage in policy

What is lobbying?

Lobbying is where action or communication is used to persuade, inform and influence someone in authority about law and policy. It can be in many forms such as letters, conversation, a speech or a question and in different settings. It is an important way of inputting to decisions and can be carried out by organisations, interest groups and individuals.

Some lobbying is “Regulated Lobbying” in that it is covered by the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016, designed to bring greater transparency and openness to lobbing activity. Regulated lobbying is recorded in a publicly accessible Lobbying Register that is maintained by Scottish Parliament. It is an online register.  

What counts?

Regulated Lobbying is any face-to-face (including by video-conference) communication as outlined above with any of the following people: 

  • a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP)
  • a member of the Scottish Government (Cabinet Secretaries and Scottish Law Officers)
  • a junior Scottish Minister (e.g. Minister for Biodiversity)
  • a Scottish Government Special Adviser
  • the Scottish Government’s Permanent Secretary

Who to engage with?

There are lots of people that you could get in touch with regarding litter. It may help to better understand who does what.

Scottish Government Cabinet and Ministers

The Scottish Cabinet is the main decision making body of Scottish Government, and is made up of a number of appointed MSPs. The Cabinet is formed of the First Minister, Cabinet Secretaries, the Minister for Parliamentary Business and the Permanent Secretary.  The current Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition (TNZJT) has environmental quality as a key responsibility.

The Cabinet Secretaries are supported by Ministers, a supporting Minister for the Cabinet Secretary for TNZJT includes the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity where the circular economy, including Deposit Return Scheme, waste issues and Zero Waste Scotland, are specific responsibilities.

The Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning has a specific responsibility for local government, along with town centre regeneration and place-based investment, and the Minister for Energy and Environment has allotments and community food growing alongside wildlife management and crime in their key responsibilities.

You can read the profiles and key responsibilities of each Cabinet Secretary and Scottish Minister on the Scottish Government website to make sure you are engaging with the right person.

Initial contact with a Cabinet Secretary or Minister must be in writing and information of how to do this can be found on the Scottish Government website. Remember if this leads to a face-to-face meeting this counts as Regulated Lobbying.

Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs)

For local issues it may be best to get in touch with your local MSP who represents you and your local area in the Scottish Parliament. They can help with environmental issues and can be contacted in multiple ways. As well as your constituency MSP you will also be represented by seven regional MSPs – there are eight political regions of Scotland. You can approach any of these MSPs, some may be better suited such as sit on a particular committee or have more of interest in environmental issues, and some may be more appropriate for you. Many have a local office and may have face-to-face surgeries – contact details can be found for each on the Scottish Parliament website.

When contacting your MSP remember to include your contact details, a description of the issue and, if you have any, suggestions on action. It may be helpful to use the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy to inform or evidence your comments. If your engagement ends in face-to-face conversations, this will count as regulated lobbying.  

Environment is a devolved matter which means that the Scottish Parliament has the power to develop and pass legislation in this area. Given this devolved power, MSPs are the relevant point of contact. Your local MP represents your interests at Westminster and will not be able to influence at Scottish Parliament. Where legislation is developed or implemented on a four nations UK basis, your local MP may be better suited.

Members of Parliament (MPs)

Local issues can also be raised with your local MP although most environmental issues are best raised with your MSP. Your local MP can help you with reserved matters such as employment, trade and industry, or immigration and visas. Reserved matters are those that only the UK Parliament has the power to legislate on.

However, there are a number of legislative areas in which UK harmony is being pursued following the UK’s exit from the European Union. This includes some waste management policies outlined in the Resources and Waste Provisional Common Framework. For example: Extended Producer Responsibility and Deposit Return Scheme which are both significant in action against litter. MPs are not covered by the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016.

Councillor

Within your local council there are areas called wards. Within each ward there are three or four councillors who are voted for in local council elections. Councillors can be contacted for help in your local area. Topics where this may be appropriate include waste collection, recycling, neighbourhood issues, and your local parks. You can find your local councillors online.

Council departments

Your local council, or local authority, have the duty to keep certain areas of public land clean and clear of litter – more information is in the Responsibilities page. They will be providing services such as street cleansing, public bin provision, and litter enforcement. Opening a dialogue with your local council may be of benefit to understand these services and engage in action.

Consultations

The consultation process is a high impact point of engagement, as the analysis and evidence gathered often happens prior to the development of legislation. Anyone can submit a response to a consultation, but they can take a bit of time to work through and understand. You do not need to answer every single question and can therefore tailor your response to the bits that are most relevant to you and the topic you are interested in.

Scottish Government consultations are advertised online where you can search for those relevant and/or sign up to the mailing list.

Calls for views

The Scottish Parliament allows for you to add your thoughts on legislation being developed in their Calls for views, again listed online.

Petitions

Petitions can be used to raise an issue in Parliament. Any person or organisation can start a petition, although there are some rules about the types of issue. This can be done on The Scottish Parliament Petitions system, where you can also find existing petitions under consideration. New petitions should be specific enough in that they explain what should be done, rather than very broad such as reduce litter. Once received, petitions will be reviewed against the rules and standards, and if it meets these, it will be published online where it can collect further signatures. Petitions are considered by the Public Petitions Committee and action taken from there.

Further reading

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