Rules about petitions
The rules for petitions are in:
- the Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament (the rules for how the Parliament works)
- a “determination” (rules) agreed by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee
Standing Orders Rules
A petition must clearly state:
- (a) the name of the petitioner;
- (b) an address of the petitioner to which all communications concerning the petition should be sent; and
- (c) the name and address of any person supporting the petition.
A petition is admissible unless it:
- (a) does not comply with Rule 15.4.2 or is otherwise not in proper form;
- (aa) is frivolous;
- (ab) breaches any enactment or rule of law;
- (ac) refers to any matter in relation to which legal proceedings are active;
- (b) contains language which is offensive;
- (ba) fails to raise issues of national policy or practice;
- (c) requests the Parliament to do anything which the Parliament clearly has no power to do;
- (d) is the same as, or in substantially similar terms to, a petition brought during the same session of the Parliament and which was closed less than a year earlier.
- (e) is the same as, or in substantially similar terms to, any other petition which is currently being considered by the Parliament;
- (f) has been brought by or on behalf of a petitioner who, at the same time, has two current petitions under consideration by the Parliament; or
- (g) relates to a Bill which is currently being considered by the Parliament, or to primary legislation passed by the Parliament within the period of twelve months preceding the lodging of the petition.
Determination on proper form of petitions
To be read alongside the Parliament’s rules on public petitions, the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee has made the following determination under Rule 15.4.3 on proper form of petitions.
- Petitions should be submitted using the Scottish Parliament’s online petitions site. All sections should be completed.
- If an individual has no access to or difficulty in using the online petitions site, or if the site is unavailable, a petition may be submitted in paper form using the word template.
- A petition may be brought in any language. Where a language other than English is used, the Parliament will provide a translation.
- Petitions should be brief and state clearly what action is being sought.
- No supplementary information (such as correspondence, legal information, photographs, or copies of Freedom of Information requests) will be accepted as part of a petition.
- Petitions must relate to national policy or practice as opposed to a local or individual matter.
- Petition titles should be a short factual description that explains what is sought but not a slogan or campaign name. For example “changes to the law about fatal accident inquiries” would be an appropriate title. “Betty’s Law” or “Justice for Betty” would not be.
- Previous action taken on a petition must include raising the issue with a relevant decision maker such as the Scottish Government (or other relevant public body) or an elected representative such as an MSP.
- A petition will not be considered by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee if the same (or substantially similar) petition, submitted by the same petitioner, has previously been considered by the Committee and closed at its first consideration on three consecutive occasions.
Petitions should not:
- Name individuals or otherwise contain information that could lead to the identification of any individual. This excludes elected representatives and senior managers of public bodies.
- Contain any false statements. It is the responsibility of the petitioner to ensure that statements are accurate.
- Refer to any matter that is the subject of continuing court proceedings.
- Seek an adjudication or decision on an individual or commercial matter.
- Seek to involve the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee in a decision that is more properly the domain of another body (for example complaints, court appeals, planning appeals, local authority expenditure decisions etc.)
- Include language or wording that is defamatory, offensive, or inappropriate, for example swear words, insults, sarcasm or other language that could reasonably be considered offensive by a reader.