As a citizen of both the UK and Europe, you can play an important role influencing the way both MPs, peers and MEPs vote on an issue. Whether urging MPs to sign an Early Day Motion, back a Private Member's Bill, ask a Parliamentary Question or introduce better animal welfare legislation.
There are several ways of lobbying:
Write to your MP – via email or post a letter
In general MP’s only respond to their constituents, so it’s important that you contact your local MP.
For help and advice about writing letters, go to our Lobbying Tool Kit.
Meet your MP
Your MP will usually hold a weekly surgery in his/her constituency while Parliament is in session. If you telephone your MP’s constituency party headquarters they will give you the details of the times and location of these surgeries. Some may require you to make appointments in advance and, for others, you will be able to go along and wait.
MP Constituency Office telephone numbers can be found here
Prior to meeting your MP, prepare a short briefing outlining your case, and the points you hope to cover during the meeting. (If the animal welfare issue you are planning to discuss with your MP is a Naturewatch campaign, you will find plenty of relevant information on our website) The important thing to find out from the meeting is what degree of concern they have for the issues that you raise, and whether they can lend their support. If your MP promises their support then, after your meeting, write to thank them for their time and support as your letter will serve as a helpful reminder to them.
Ask Parliamentary Questions
Write to your local MP and ask him/her to ask Parliamentary Questions in the House on your behalf. There are regular Question Time sessions each day in the House of Commons when Oral Questions can be taken. You could also ask your MP to ask Questions for a Written Answer on your behalf. These are passed to the relevant Government Minister who will answer them within a time-frame of usually two weeks. You may ask your MP to ask a Question on any issue that you choose. Parliamentary Questions can serve to uncover information not readily available elsewhere or to increase MPs awareness of a given issue.
Introduce a Private Member’s Bill
Each year a ballot is held at the start of the Parliamentary session in November and the 20 MPs whose names come out on top are allowed to introduce their own Member’s Bill in the House of Commons. If any of these Bills have strong cross-party support they stand a good chance of becoming law. Even if a Bill doesn’t become law, this is a good way of making MPs and the media aware of a particular issue as Private Member’s Bills are often covered in the press.
The successful MPs in the 2012-2013 session can be found here
Lobbying the House of Lords
The House of Lords fulfils a vital role investigating policy issues and examining legislation before it passes into law. New legislation proposed by the House of Commons, is first debated in the House of Lords, where it is considered line by line. Members of the House of Lords can change the content of the Bill before it is sent back to the House of Commons for further debate and consideration.
There are 780 members of the House of Lords, mostly “life peers”. While they don’t represent constituencies, they do work on behalf of the UK as a whole. Members of the House of Lords need not be aligned to a political party, though often have a specific interest, insight or area of expertise. Members may table questions for debate, normally up to 2 ½ hours on specific matter or concern, or participate in Select Committees made up solely of members of the House of Lords, or Joint Committees made up of MPs and Lords. These Committees inquire and debate wider policy issues and new legislation, including EU legislation. For instance in 2010, the Lords EU Committee examined the Revision of the EU Directive on the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific Purposes.
To check which members of the House of Lords and backbench MPs sit on Committees related to animal welfare click here
For a complete list of Members of the House of Lords click here