Of the first 179 petitions to the Scottish Parliament 29 were sent by one man, Frank Harvey from Glasgow. The Scottish petiiton procedure allows any individual to send a petition to the Parliament. Only the initiator of the petition need sign.
Each petition is send to the Public Petitions committee which considers the petition (most of which require a briefing note to be prepared by Parliamentary staff). The committee then has to decide how to dispose of the petition. Some are passed to other committees, some to the Executive for a formal response. Many (especially those sent by mr Harvey) are marked “no further action”.
Earlier this year the Scottish parliament celebrated its one thousandth petition. There was much rejoicing and dancing on the streets of Raith and Queen of the South. Sadly the main who single-handedly kept the petitions committee going during its early years was not invited to the celebration.
The standard Frank Harvey petition is accompanied by an excerpt from a tabloid newspaper (usually the Daily Record or The Sun) with a call for the Parliament to respond to the Daily Record or Sun report. As an example consider his first petition (PE49).
The text narrates,
Later petitions are to similar effect. His fourth petition (PE58) related to moving call centre jobs to INdia and helpfully used the Sun report on “slave labour in Calcutta”.
There are many many more including the call for a ban on animal circuses , the petition calling for the Scottish Parliament to (a) change the law in relation to the sentencing of those convicted of violent crime; (b) take steps to reduce violence and bullying in schools; and (c) ban professional and amateur boxing, the petition calling for the Scottish Parliament to order a public inquiry into the door to door sales techniques of both Scottish Power and Scottish Gas, and to ban all door to door salesman in Scotland, the petition calling for the Scottish Parliament to a) amend legislation to make it an criminal offence for a surgeon to remove healthy organs or limbs from patients in any Scottish Hospital and b) order a full inquiry into the recent limb removals at Falkirk, and the petition calling for the Scottish Parliament to ban all school children from visiting farms in Scotland immediately. Mr Harvey’s petitions were often well-intended and it must please tabloid journalists to know their words move someone to act.