A key principle set out when the Scottish Parliament was established was that
the people of Scotland should be encouraged to take an active part in the
decision making process.
The main ways to participate in the Scottish Parliament are:
• Lobby MSPs
• Join a Cross Party Group
• Give evidence to a committee
• Stand for election
A good example of how a large number of people were involved in
changing the law can be seen in the following case study:
Case Study – smoking ban in public places
For several years there has been a general discussion about banning
smoking in public places. In January 2005 the Health Minister, Andy Kerr,
MSP introduced an Executive bill to do this –
Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill
This was the result of a large number of individuals, pressure groups, MSPs
and health officials joining the debate. The following case study looks at some
of these groups and how they lobbied to get this bill introduced.
2002 Firrhill High School Petition
In May 2002 a group of pupils from Firrhill High School in Edinburgh
petitioned Parliament to take the necessary action to ban smoking in public
places. They supported their petition with evidence about the effects of
passive smoking and had 105 signatures.
The Public Petitions Committee asked them to attend a committee meeting
and give further evidence to support their arguments. The committee then
asked the Executive to respond to the petition.
Anyone can petition the Parliament asking
for a new law or a change to an existing
law provided it is a devolved matter.
One signature is enough.
2004 Prohibition of Smoking in Regulated areas (Scotland) Bill
In 2004 Stewart Maxwell, MSP introduced a Members Bill that proposed
banning smoking in public areas that serve food.
The Health Committee examined the Bill at Stage 1 by calling in witnesses to
give evidence. The witnesses called included:
• Firrhill High School
• Health officials, e.g. BMA, Royal College of Nursing, Health boards
• FOREST – pro smoking pressure group
• Tobacco Manufacturers Association
• New York City Dept. of Health official – had already introduced a ban
The Health Committee reported that they supported a ban and that Stewart
Maxwell’s Bill didn’t go far enough. (Stewart Maxwell later withdrew the Bill
when the Executive’s Bill was successful)
2004 Scottish Executive Consultation
In the meantime the Scottish Executive had started a wide spreading
consultation process to find out the extent of support for a ban. There were
52,441 personal responses and 1,033 group responses. Overall, 80%
supported some type of ban, with 56% thinking there should be no
exemptions to a ban.
One of the groups to respond was the Tobacco Control Cross Party Group.
This group looks at the effect of tobacco on health and tobacco
Cross-Party Groups are formed by Members
(MSPs) from different parties and include
members of the public and outside organisations.
They meet to discuss a shared interest in a
particular cause or subject. At present there
are over 45 different groups.
2004 Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill
The Health Minister introduced the Smoking, Health & Social Care Bill on 16
December 2004. It included a ban on smoking in all enclosed public places.
The Health Committee was named lead committee and had the task of
taking this Bill through the legislative process. The committee took evidence
from groups and individuals about how the proposals could work in practice.
This was an Executive Bill and supported by all the other parties except the
Conservatives. The Health Committee reported to Parliament and then there
was a Stage 1 debate and vote. After this the Health Committee looked more
closely at the Bill and made some amendments (Stage 2), then there was a
Stage 3 Debate and vote on the final version of the Bill.
The final vote was:
The Bill was therefore passed by Parliament on 30th June 2005 and
received Royal Assent on 5th August 2005 to become the Smoking, Health
and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005
Smoking in enclosed public places was banned from 26th March 2006.