From 2001 to 2015 I was the Labour Member of Parliament for Edinburgh North & Leith. During that time, I took part in House of Commons debates and questions on a wide range of subjects. I was an active member of a number of committes, including the Select Committees on Environmental Audit, Environment Food & Rural Affairs, Modernisation, Scottish Affairs, Regulatory Reform, and the draft Climate Change Bill. My longest service was on the Environmental Audit Committee, which has the responsibility to scrutinise and hold to account policies and actions on environmental matters across government departments. I was a member of that committee in the 2005 – 2010 and 2010 – 2015 Parliaments, and was involved the preparation of a number of hard-hitting reports by that committee.
I was Shadow International Development Minister from 2010 to 2011, and Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Scotland Office between 2007 and 2008. From 2008 to 2010, I was the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Carbon Trading which culminated in the preparation of my report: “Global Carbon Trading: a framework for reducing emissions” (2009).
I won a place in the ballot for Private Members Bills on four occasions, and as a result of that I was able to introduce legislation on employee shareholding, and on climate change, and other of my proposed bills led to government itself introducing measures to control ship-to-shop transfer of oil (a major environmental threat in the Forth at the time), and to give the Scottish Parliament greater powers to stop pavement parking.
Climate change and other environmental issues were a major focus of my activity as an MP, and I have continued to campaign and act on these issues since I left Parliament. As part of that activity, I was invited to become an Honorary Fellow for Scottish Environment Link, and was closely involved in their preparatory work leading to the establishment of the Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland, of which I am now an Associate.
Before becoming an MP, I was active in local government between 1980 and 1996 (when I was a councillor on the City of Edinburgh District Council, and was Leader of the Council from 1986 to 1993), and between 1999 and 2001 (when I was a councillor on the City of Edinburgh Council, and the Council’s Executive Member for Transport).
Both in Parliament (where I sat as a Labour & C0-operative MP) and locally, I have been active supporter of co-operation and community ownership. I helped found the Edinburgh Community Energy Co-operative, which was the forerunner to the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative.
I am a lawyer, in practice as an advocate in Scotland, where I became a member of the Faculty of Advocates in 1996. I am a member of Terra Firma Chambers in Edinburgh. Much of my practice involves housing and social welfare law, and I frequently work with law centres, across Scotland. You can find more details of my legal practice including my areas of specialism and qualifications on my legal website here.
In 2017, I founded the Citizens’ Rights Project, a charity, which was set up to advise and assist EU and other European citizens in Scotland. It has a small staff, based in its Edinburgh staff. Their main focus has been to support EU/EEA/Swiss nationals to apply for settled status so that they can continue to reside in the UK after Brexit. In addition, the project provides information and publicity about their other rights in the UK , and generally advocates for the interests of European citizens in Scotland. I serve as the volunteer chair of the project.
I have written extensively on a wide range of policy, political, and legal subjects. This has included “The Scottish Parliament: Law and Practice”, the leading textbook on the law and workings of the Scottish Parliament. A list of some of my other publications can be found here.
I have lived in the Broughton area of Edinburgh for 30 years, and before that lived in a number of other parts of Edinburgh area. I have been active in community organisations in the local area, including the local community council, as well as the ‘Better Broughton’ group.
I am on twitter @marklazarowicz where I post mainly on political, public policy and legal issues.