Free Our Data: the blog

A Guardian Technology campaign for free public access to data about the UK and its citizens


Free our data, says Lords info committee

Simon Dickson has picked up what we were remiss in missing: the Lords Information Committee. He describes it as Free our data, says Lords info committee.

He notes that its final report

couldn’t really have been more in favour of the free our bills [as pushed by They Work For You, which would show you details of bills in progress in committee] agenda.

A key recommendation, among those listed in its listed in the press release:

(I’ve copied and pasted these from puffbox.com. All credit to Simon for what’s below, apart from any mistakes in the stuff in [italics], which are my additions

  • information and documentation related to the core work of the House of Lords should be produced and made available online in an open standardised electronic format (not pdf) that enables people outside Parliament to analyse and re-use the data
  • the integration of information on Parliament’s website, eg biographical info on Members to be linked to their voting record, their register of interests, questions tabled, etc [basically, like They Work For You]
  • Bills should be presented on Parliament’s website in a way that makes the legislative process more transparent and easier to understand [=Free Our Bills]
  • an online system enabling people to sign up to receive electronic alerts and updates about particular Bills [rather like planningalerts, but for legislation]
  • a requirement on the Government to start producing Bills in an electronic format which both complies with “open standards” and is readily reusable [a bit like the Conservatives’ suggestions]
  • an online database to increase awareness of Members’ areas of expertise
  • an online debate to run in parallel with a debate in the Lords Chamber
  • greater access to Parliament for factual filming
  • a trial period during which voting in the Lords is filmed from within the voting lobbies
  • all public meetings of Lords committees to be webcast with video and audio
  • a review of the parliamentary language used in the House of Lords to make it easier for people outside the House to understand

Let’s see how it pans out. Is there time for this to be implemented before the election? Or would either of the main parties put it onto their agenda – or even manifesto?

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