Confirm who your local MP is. The Parliament website’s ‘Constituency Locata’ is a simple way of doing this: http://www.locata.co.uk/commons/.
- See how your MP has voted on issues affecting Christians in the past. The Christian Institute’s service at http://www.christian.org.uk/mpvotes.php is helpful for this.
- Find out when your MP’s surgery is held and contact them to arrange a meeting. Face to face visits are an effective way of communicating the strength of feeling you have about an issue. Every constituency has a “surgery” once or twice a week, usually a Friday and/or a Saturday. Surgeries are meetings which usually last between 20 and 30 minutes and are intended as an opportunity for constituents to raise any issues or concerns they have with their MP. From the Parliament website, contact details can be found for all the constituency MPs at http://www.parliament.uk/directories/directories.cfm in order to find out what day of the week their surgery is held, and then make an appointment.
- Before going to see an MP, gather as much factual information as possible. Use the resources of Christian organisations, many of which prepare briefing sheets and lobbying material
- Writing to MPs can be done by post, email or fax. Again, gather as much factual information before writing to your MP. Any correspondence with an MP should be factually accurate, present a clear argument, and show consideration of the issues involved. Christian lobbying organisations will often provide an example letter to give you an idea of the sort of approach to take. However, always try to make letters individual by focussing on the aspects of the issue you personally feel most strongly about. It is especially powerful to include any examples from your own experience if an issue or piece of legislation has touched you, a friend or a family member personally.
- Those Christians who have friends or acquaintances in the House of Lords should arrange to meet with them to explain any Christian issues which will fall to be voted on or considered in the Lords. This is probably the most persuasive and direct way of influencing peers.
- Although members of the House of Lords do not have constituencies as such, they are still based, through where they live, in certain localities. It makes sense to find out who your ‘local’ peer is and then to contact them by writing or by e-mailing, to explain any concerns you have about a piece of legislation or an issue. Having the link of living close by will be a good starting point for the correspondence.
- There is an alphabetical list of members of the House of Lords on the Parliament website or you can call the House of Lords directly and ask them for information on 0207 219 3107. Once you know the name of the relevant peer, further contact details can be found on the Parliament website