2021 - Week 2

Box fresh brarian

Our regular reader might recall we spent a sizeable slice of September interviewing for a brand new librarian. And this is the week we finally met our new colleague, as Ayesha appeared on our Teams screens. It might be some time before we meet outside of pixels. Nevertheless, hello and welcome Ayesha.

Logicifying the procedure model

Librarian Jayne and computational “expert” Michael spent much of the week continuing to wade through the waters of converting our made negative statutory instrument map to something more logical. Over the course of five solid hours of pure pixel time, they managed to sort out the Lords’ half, the bits around procedure conclusion, the legislation citations, the standing order citations, and the blasted clock. Not to mention at least an hour of pure, mind-numbing tedium spent attaching labels to non-business steps. On Thursday evening Michael switched dull times for fun times and removed all existing route data from the staging platform, and on Friday morning they set about adding new routes to match the new map. At least until they realised that their plan to treat logic steps as agnostic of procedure had been born dead, as they’d added House details and legislation citations to logic steps in the proposed negative statutory instrument map. A new plan is obviously needed, so they’ve roped in young Robert for an early Monday morning meeting. At least early by their standards. In the meantime we remain really rather pleased with our new logical map. In a dank and depressing world, it is a thing of rare beauty. If you haven’t already clicked it, you should click it. Go on, click it.

Procedure mapping

Deciding they were in need of a break from all things logical, Jayne and Michael spent part of Friday making some tweaks to our pair of affirmative SI procedure maps. Librarian Emma had pointed out that our House of Lords ‘motion to consider’ steps were not adding an awful lot to anyone’s understanding. Jayne checked in with her near namesake and JO Jane agreed that they were of little use to no-one. So those steps and all associated routes and steps have now been removed from the draft affirmative map, the draft affirmative data, the made affirmative map, the made affirmative data and the draft composite map. There being no data for the draft composite procedure yet. Jianhan chipped in, mass deleting all business items added to actualise the step. Or at least those that only actualised that step. Jayne stepped up to clear out the rest.

Our Jianhan has continued his quest to bring the interface for external parliamentary search kicking and screaming into the late 1990s. Overly noisy filters have been removed, padding increased, margins tidied, new intro text added and the clear all button removed. It is, after all, not 1992. He’s also brought the whole thing in line with acceptable accessibility standards. Which was, after all, the point of the work. The changes are not yet deployed to live but there’s a sneak peak on our test site. Top work Jianhan.

On orders being standing

Work continued on our model of standing orders. It’s pretty much our relational model reinterpreted as Turtle and is heavily indebted to the people at ParlRules, whose data provided our starting point. We wanted to add modelling for standing order suspension but before doing that we had questions. And who better to ask than Messrs Beamish and Evans. An email was dispatched and quickly answered. Thanks David and Paul. We learnt that standing orders may indeed be suspended in whole or in part and that a suspension period that includes a renumbering is most probably outside the limits of plausibility. We also learnt that there’s a distinct difference between ‘suspension, for a period’ and ‘dispensed with, for a purpose’. We now suspect that the ‘Scrutiny reserve for the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI) suspended’ step in our affirmative procedures should, in fact, be a ‘dispensed with’. We shall, as ever, check in with JO Jane and confirm. On Wednesday, Robert and Michael once more took out their tiny chisels and proceded to chip away at Turtle. There is now a new class covering suspension periods with a rather verbose comment and a couple of new object properties. Clerkly eyes are encouraged to take a look and idiot check.

All about the collaboration

On the subject of ParlRules, Friday saw more pixel based meetings when Robert and Michael joined Rad and Tom for a chat about progress. We showed off how we’ve reshaped - and in places relabelled - their data, the application we’ve built on top of it, the ontology model to date, and shared our new found knowledge of suspensions and dispensed withs. A plan was concocted to share the ParlRules approach with colleagues in the Library, in the hope that we can take over maintaining this data set and ideally do the same for the House of Lords. There was also a chat about adding section and order titles but that might be some way down the road. We wait in hope.

On Thursday, Anya and Michael sat down with a copy of the Rush database schema and a Postgres terminal to run eyes over the reference data and spot potential problems. Such problems have now been added to our Rush data Trello but there are still more tables to churn through. Another meeting is pencilled in for next week.

In continuence of our limited education

Thursday also saw the latest in a long line of Lords’ procedural seminars. This time offered by Anna and on the subject of parliamentary time. Librarians Anya, Liz and Clare and computational dilettante Michael dropped by and learnt much. Thanks Anna.

Michael popped his head into a Rules as Code hackday show and tell organised by folks at the Bank of England. He’s not quite sure who invited him but if it was you, Adam, thanks. It was all good stuff but he’d still pay money to attend an event where John or Luke or somebody just told him what to make of all this.