2020 - Week 20

We think we’ve had a more successful week than many in the recent past. At least as far as we can remember the recent past. It is of course quite difficult to tell where one week ends and another begins these days. But we have not allowed plague-based isolation to negatively impact on our education. Wednesday morning kicked off early for Anya and Michael, with a Study of Parliament Group seminar on Coronavirus, gender and legislatures. Which ended up much more wide ranging than first expected. Thanks as ever Cristina and team. Lovely to see some familiar faces and hear from some familiar voices.

Schooling continued on Friday, when Anya snuck Librarian Jayne and self-titled computational expert Michael into one of her Procedure Level 2 classes - a talk on Parliament and time delivered by the marvellous Mr Evans. Paul’s supporting cast included what has to count as the finest lockdown bookshelf yet seen. Unless he’s figured out the video conference background trick. Unsurprisingly, Paul’s discourse was informative, entertaining and considerate of his audience. His introduction including an offer of a fag break for Anya and Michael should things overrun. Thanks Paul. Too often the education sector overlooks smokers. Plans to get Paul, David and Martyn on a call, if only to collect bets on their bookshelves, are under consideration.

As ever, we continue in our efforts to balance theory and practice whilst steering well clear of shouts of “PRAXIS”. Michael ploughed on with his own efforts around Parliament and time, this week ably enabled by Librarian Jayshree. Anyone who’s been following along from home will by now surely know that Michael has been concentrating recent efforts on building a prototype egg-timer for parliamentary procedure. Having typed the same explanation for the past few weeks, we prefer to refer you to weeknotes passim. Anyroad, he’s added a calculator which attempts to return an anticipated end date for Statutory instruments subject to parliamentary scrutiny for 40 days. Or any other number of days you may wish to choose. Biblical or otherwise. In this iteration, to save on counting fingers, it deals with instruments laid before the House of Commons only. Bicameral proceedings to follow next week. Weather and allotment time permitting. We’re fairly sure this is working as intended. But it does need considerably more testing. The calculations are now based on actual sitting dates, rather than just random nonsense for testing purposes. All thanks to Jayshree, who’s been energetically adding sitting and non-sitting days to our Google calendars. These are now populated up to and including Sunday, 14th June. We hope to continue into the future and backwards into the past to help us better test. And better anticipate. If everything goes to plan we hope to have more egg timers for more procedures next week. Although Michael and Robert also rather fancy completely rewriting what they’ve done to date because the calendar date handling is, quite frankly, shonky. So it’s more than possible that next week’s steps will be backwards.

Back in the world of procedure mapping, Librarian Jayne and Michael started and so very nearly completed their first attempt at the Census SI procedure. This is something of a beast - part negative, part affirmative, and including the tricky possibility of amendments to the SI. Though this is by means of amendments to the affirmative approval motion rather than bill style amendments. So that, at least, is something. Michael had been under the impression that the negative and affirmative elements ran in series. Jayne reminded him that this time around, the affirmative approval motions were tabled whilst the negative elements were still proceeding through Parliament. So, via the medium of shared screens, they took the draft negative map and slapped the draft affirmative map alongside it and tied them together with a plethora of new routes, making the whole thing look like a knitting basket attacked by a kitten. They believe that this is what men in the motor trade like to call ‘a cut and shut job’. And it’s probably about as reliable. The resulting map is largely complete. To the best of their knowledge anyway. It still lacks motion amendability in the Lords. What happens then and how they prove anything is anyone’s guess.

The rest of Jayne and Michael’s week was spent playing their own version of ping-pong with Journal Office Jane. Emails rocketed over nets as JO Jane deployed her trademarked half volleys and drop shots. With grunts and groans Jayne and Michael bounced around the court, picking up chalk marks on plimsolls and faces. Jane declared herself happy with their efforts on made affirmatives laid under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 and suggested they’d be better talking to an FCO lawyer on this. Within minutes, she had hooked them up with just such a person. Feedback is eagerly awaited.

Further rallies ensued, the tiebreak taking place over Skype messages, with no one really sure who won. Nevertheless, they did reach some sort of conclusion on both the depositing of papers before the laying of SIs introducing criminal offences under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the long contentious matter of SI revocation. Should everything go to plan, which seems unlikely, next week should see the decantation out of playpen pictures and into proper procedure maps and data. Stay tuned. Important messages from our sponsors. And so on.

In tiny chisel news, Robert and Michael continued on their quest to sculpt ontology comments out of pure consonants and vowels. And em dashes. Lots of em dashes. This week saw them turn their attention to the house membership model, a new version of which is now made available for constructive criticism and tyre kicking. This one is yet to be added to interface classes. Another job for next week.