HOW TO LOBBY YOUR MP
What is ‘lobbying’?
Lobbying is using your right to meet your MP as one of his or her constituents. You can do this either in your constituency or by visiting Parliament. .
An MP should regard you as a constituent, whether you voted for them or not. MPs are meant to “represent” each constituent’s interests. This does not mean that they have to agree with you – after all each MP has up to 90,000 constituents – but it does mean they should listen and be prepared to pass on your views to the Government.
You should therefore use a meeting with your MP to try to:
Give them the information they need about the necessity of properly funding Equal Pay in Local Government
Influence their views
Persuade them that many other constituents share your concerns
Ask them to pass on your concerns to the Government, and
Ask them to take appropriate action (and we suggest some below) to show that they support you
Meeting your MP
In theory you can turn up at Westminster any time that the House of Commons is sitting and request a meeting with your MP. But there is no guarantee that they will be there or have time to meet you, and in these days of heightened security, there is a strict limit on numbers within Parliament. When you are joining a mass lobby such as this, you should do everything you can to arrange to meet your MP in advance.
ARRANGEMENTS IN ADVANCE
Contacting your MP
The best way to contact your MP is to write to him or her at the House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA. Most MPs also use email, and should treat emails in the same manner as a letter. You can find out your MP’s email address at the following website: http://www.parliament.uk/directories/hciolists/alms.cfm. Remember to give your home address even in an email, as MPs have a strict rule about dealing only with their own constituents.
Arranging to meet your MP
There is a limit of 100 lobbyists at any one time in the Central Lobby – the area in the House of Commons where visitors traditionally wait for MPs.
If you need to go to Central Lobby, you will enter through what is known as the St Stephens entrance to the Commons. Stewards will be available to help you. Before you queue for the security check, inform a police officer that you have a meeting arranged with your MP and show them any correspondence your MP has sent to you. This should allow you to go straight into the security checking area without queuing with the general public for tours of Parliament. Your MP or their staff will usually come to meet you in Central Lobby. You need to go to the desk in Central Lobby and ask the attendants to telephone your MP’s office.
Remember you will have to go through ‘airport type’ security to gain access to Parliament – on a busy day this can take at least 15 minutes – and you may need to queue until there is space.
What if you don’t have an arranged meeting?
If your MP has agreed to meet you, but not given you any details of where and when, or if you have not already arranged a meeting with your MP, you will need to queue outside St Stephen’s entrance.
The police will only allow 100 people, including lobbyists and other visitors, into Central Lobby at any one time. Pass through the security check and proceed to Central Lobby. Once there, go to the desk and ask for “a green card”. This is a request for your MP to come and meet you and should be filled in and returned as directed. It is important that you make clear statement your reason for visiting on the card.
This is very important because, if you do not manage to meet with your MP, the card will then be sent on to him or her. Your MP should then respond directly to you and the more he or she knows about why you were at Westminster, the better.
The desk staff will take the card and officials will be asked to look for your MP and let him or her know that you are asking to meet with them. You should wait around for a while, but don’t forget that lobbyists with firm appointments to meet their MP will also be waiting, so you should be prepared to give up waiting after 30 minutes or so.
If you are disabled, please telephone the Serjeant-at-Arms’ office at the House of Commons, who will advise you of procedures for entering the building. (Phone 0207 219 3000 and ask the switchboard to put you through to the Serjeant’s office). The Serjeant’s office do allow some parking where it is required by disabled people, but individuals will need to verify this with the office. It is usual for one of your MPs’ staff to accompany you once you enter the building. You will need to arrange this with your MP in advance. Please notify the union if you have any special ambulatory needs or require any assistance.
Meeting with your MP
It is best to be as brief, clear and courteous as possible. If they send their researcher instead, treat them in the same way.
You should thank him or her for taking the time to see you, establish how much time they have, make two or three key points and - most importantly - ask them to follow up the meeting. (You can use any Briefings that may have been supplied to you but do point out how the issues directly affect you, your family and your workmates if possible).
Ask your MP to
• Raise your concerns with any relevant Ministers by meeting them and by writing to them
• Continue to try and meet MPs in their constituency to follow up on what action they have taken or to raise the concerns with MPs you are unable to meet with on the day.
Remember - do not be surprised if your MP only has a small amount of time to spare you. MPs will be very busy on the day, so don’t take it personally. But make the most of the time you have with them.
Enjoy the lobby!
Remember – your action can make the difference!