Each person in Scotland is represented by eight MSPs. They all have the same status and you can contact any of the eight who represent you. You can contact an MSP even if you didn't vote for them.
MSPs may hold surgeries in their local area to give you an opportunity to meet them and discuss matters of concern.
What can MSPs do?
lodge a motion to get support for an issue
speak in a debate
ask a question of Scottish Government Ministers
refer matters to, or ask a question of, another person or organisation such as a council or a health board
introduce a bill to change the law
propose changes to a current bill
Scottish Government Ministers
Some MSPs are Cabinet Secretaries or Ministers in the Scottish Government, with responsibility for a particular area of policy such as health or justice. If one of your local MSPs is a Cabinet Secretary or Minister, you can still contact them for help or advice on any matter that is dealt with by the Scottish Parliament.
The Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016 became law in April 2016. The Act is designed to improve transparency of lobbying contact between organisations and:
Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs)
Scottish Government Ministers
The Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government
Scottish Government Special Advisers
After the Lobbying (Scotland) Bill was given Royal Assent in April 2016, it was envisaged that a ‘register of lobbyists’ should be fully operational within 18 to 24 months.
Work on the register is now underway.
Committees are small groups of MSPs who look at specific subjects such as health, the economy or justice. Most committees meet weekly, usually on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday mornings, in one of the Scottish Parliament's committee rooms.
How committees work
Each committee is chaired by a convener and most of the current committees have seven or eleven MSPs as members. Members reflect the balance of the various political parties and groupings in the Scottish Parliament.
Committees invite members of the public to give their views on the issues they are considering. They can also invite any person to attend a meeting as a witness. Witnesses give evidence related to the business of the committee.
What committees do
Committees play a central role in the work of the Scottish Parliament because, unlike the UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament is a single-chamber parliament.
examine in detail the work of the Scottish Government, including its budget proposals
hold inquiries into subjects relating to the work of the committee
examine legislation, including bills and subordinate legislation
take evidence from witnesses to assist in their inquiries
consider petitions that have been submitted by members of the public and groups who wish to raise an issue
Giving your views
Committees aim to involve as many people as possible in the democratic process. By giving your views to a committee, you may influence legislation or the policies of the Scottish Government.
You can write to a committee in response to a call for evidence on an inquiry or a bill. You can also attend committee events or interact with most committees through social media.
The Scottish Parliament is an open, accessible and participative Parliament and recognises the importance of peaceful protest in a democratic society.
The Scottish Parliament's land is owned and managed by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
The Parliament welcomes your voice in any language.
The Parliament's website contains information in a range of languages to assist both Scottish residents and visitors, and these languages are reviewed on a regular basis.
British Sign Language
The Parliament has produced a range of resources as BSL videos. BSL interpreters can also be arranged to enable BSL users to get involved and give their views.
Gaelic | Gàidhlig
The Parliament provides a range of services and resources in Gaelic. Gaelic speakers and learners are welcome to engage with the work of the Parliament through Gaelic. There is also a specific Gaelic Twitter account: @ParlAlba and a Gaelic blog - parlamaidalba.wordpress.com
You can find out more about Gaelic and the Scottish Parliament in our Gaelic Language Plan.
You can watch parliamentary business live or catch up on previous meetings. You can find details of current, future and past business of the Parliament in the Business Bulletin, which is published each morning when the Parliament is in session.
You can arrange free tickets to attend committee meetings or debates and question time sessions in the Debating Chamber. You can also watch parliamentary business live through our website.
You can view archived videos of parliamentary business through our website. You can also read the written record of what is said in public meetings of the Scottish Parliament and its committees in the Official Report.
If you've a question about the Scottish Parliament, please contact us. Public Information is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
You can keep up to date on parliamentary business and get involved in discussions through our social media channels.
Many of our committees have their own Twitter accounts and the Scottish Parliament also has a Gaelic Twitter account.
You can sign up for our free eBulletin newsletter for information about future debates, committee meetings and events. It also contains details of bills that are in progress and opportunities for you to give your views on issues.
This is issued each week, normally on Friday afternoon.