2020 - Week 7

For those unfortunate enough to miss Anya and Michael’s impression of rabbits in headlights at the Study of Parliament Group’s Oxford Conference, their slides are now online. If you feel you’d like to know more about their strong reckons on what Erskine May might have done had he had a computer, that’s the place to look. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it involves data and models and maps of procedures with a dash of queryable precedence.

That last link is well worth a click if you’re interested in precedence as a thing that can be queried for. Librarian Jayne has begun to compile a list of SPARQL queries used by colleagues across the House of Commons Library. Jayne has recently added queries to return all Statutory Instruments as well as Statutory Instruments broken down by procedure, parliamentary session and calendar year. And, as of Friday, she’s added a set of queries for Proposed Negative Statutory Instruments including outcomes of committee consideration and PNSIs where SLSC and ESIC have made different recommendations. Over time we hope to build this out and make it a useful resource for anyone with questions about procedure and how it’s used in practice. These queries will work for anyone anywhere because, in an act of tremendous foresight, we are blessed with a public SPARQL endpoint. Feedback - and indeed pull requests - on this and all else is, as ever, very welcome.

On which subject… we’re still very keen to chat to clerks about what a public graph of procedural data linked to a private graph of notes and correspondence might look like. If you’ve ever fancied filing your procedural papers against actual procedure rather than in a folder somewhere please come chat to us.

And in another call for feedback, Librarian Jayne and Michael are still very keen to idiot check their generic motion model. Before they scatter it liberally across procedures and live to regret it.

On Tuesday, librarians Anya and Jayne took Michael on a day trip to Oxford town. They met with Rad and Tom and were joined by Niels via Skype from Oslo. Rad, Tom and Niels have been working on turning House of Commons public Standing Orders into data. Robert and Michael have been hacking this into something vaguely resembling a website. We would very much like to link to relevant Standing Orders from our procedure maps. The yellow dots on the public bill map are a gesture in this direction. Unfortunately, Standing Orders are impossible to cite persistently because their numbering can change between publications. The data gathered by Rad and his colleagues gives us a way to address this.

Those assembled spent a good few hours filling whiteboards with data flow diagrams, procedure modelsand pace layering sketches to discover how our work fits with theirs. It turns out we want to link our procedures to Standing Orders and our friends in Oxford want to link their Standing Orders to instances of procedure to study how they’re instantiated in real life. We now have a rough plan to link identifiers in a way that should make all parties happy. The people at the Parliament end have also agreed to put together a one-pager outlining a project to do the same work for House of Lords public Standing Orders. This should happen soon.

Wednesday was a bit of a change from our usual working lives. Robert, Silver and Michael were joined by Adam and colleagues from the Food Standards Agency to domain model rules and regulations around slaughterhouses and meat processing plants. Things that may or may not change post Brexit. John’s thoughts on powers and duties made another appearance. Thanks John. It’s interesting to see how our procedure model might be used as a general purpose process flow to capture some of the requirements for approving an abattoir. Although, as the only vegetarian present, Robert looked less keen.

On Friday, Robert and Michael finally set about decanting some of the whiteboards filled with the bill amendment bits of David and Paul’s heads. For now it’s in its own document and requires idiot checking before pushing back into the public bill map. Robert and Michael have questions and hope they can remember them all.