2020 - Week 8

Librarian Jayne has spent much of the week with her trusty SPARQL spanner in hand, helping Luanne - House of Commons Statutory Instrument head honcho - with some reporting figures for the JCSI and ESIC. Expect to see more SI related SPARQL on our queries page fairly soon.

On the subject of which, Michael got a little distracted writing a Twitter bot with the somewhat cheesy title of Tweaty Twacker. It automatically tweets every time a new treaty is laid into the House of Commons. Or, more precisely, every time the laying is added to the data platform. At least in theory. Right now it’s waiting for Twitter to assign OAuth keys and for someone in the Foreign Office to lay a treaty. We’re not encouraging the FCO to enter into treaties just so we can test our software but are nonetheless keen to see what happens. Thanks to Jayne for more SPARQLing and Robert for figuring out how to cURL the query. Leaving cURL to Ruby here because it’s a damned handy service should you ever find yourself attempting to torture a cURL into Ruby code.

Anya and Michael lost part of Wednesday morning to stage fright as they reprised a version of their What would Erskine May do? talk for the House of Commons Library open day. The feedback was good and Michael grabbed the opportunity to show off his shiny Librarian badge to the assembled librarians. They were kind about it. Thanks to Librarian Liz for the badge.

Jayne and Michael finally got round to wrapping their fragile minds around Andrew’s feedback on their generic motion model. The question of flowcharts vs state diagrams once again raised its head. They’re wondering what they can do to change the maps to make this way of reading clearer. A new preclusion route was added from ‘question put’ to ‘motion withdrawn’ which tightens things up considerably. And Michael has added a similar route from ‘question put’ to ‘motion lapsed at end of session’. The new lines are drawn in red - the redness means only that these lines are new. Thanks Andrew.

Robert and Michael made the first edit to our procedure model in many, many months. They removed the link between procedure and House. This is because all of our procedure flowcharts are bicameral, and this predicate was never used in practice. They also added a Step Grouping class which - as the name suggests - groups steps in a procedure in a House. The Step Grouping class has a subclass of Bill Stage which they think is the main usage. Some of the other bubbles on the public bill procedure flowchart - such as Queen’s consent, Prince of Wales’ consent and consent motions in the devolved legislatures - probably fit into the Step Groupings class without needing their own subclass. So, with these changes, and until we discover the next lurking complexity, we think the procedure model covers public bills.

At some point we also need a ‘described by’ model to link procedures and routes in procedures - such as the made affirmatice procedure, and JCSI scutiny reserve in the made affirmative procedure - to the things that inform them. Things such as Acts of Parliament, Standing Orders, resolutions and etc. Hopefully that will be along soon.

Alerted by a comment on the schema.org GitHub account, Robert and Michael also took a look at ELI and how that might map to our models. ELI is an EU project which the UK has signed up to via The National Archives. It provides a generic model to describe legislative documents and has recently branched out into draft legislative documents and some of the actions associated with changes of state in bill documents.

ELI seems to have a greater overlap with LDAPP / Akoma Ntoso than with our procedural models, but the project and activity bits do overlap. At least on a surface level. After some squinting, Robert and Michael decided that that the ELI Legislative Project class is similar to our Work Package. And the ELI Legal Activity class is similar to our Business Item. But not all of our work packages are ‘legislative’ and not all our business items are legal activities. Emails have gone out to Matt and John. More work being needed here.