2021 - Week 20

A new procedure this way comes!

By now our loyal reader will, of course, be more than familiar with drafts published under paragraph 14 of schedule 8 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. They represent an additional parliamentary hurdle for any Minister wishing to amend or revoke subordinate legislation made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972. And an additional hurdle for your correspondents trying to describe the blasted things to the computers. It is with this that we have been mostly preoccupied this week.

Librarian Jayne and Michael spent a good hour crosschecking the data for the logical procedure map that they’d entered into staging the previous week. Probably less than an hour if we’re honest. It is not much of a procedure. What little there is of the thing turned out to have been entered just fine with none of the usual mishearings that tend to accompany Jayne and Michael shouting letters at each other down telephone lines. The ravages of a youth misspent - his head shoved awkwardly into a speaker stack - appear to have been remedied by his recent investment in an ear trumpet.

Our Jianhan has, as ever, ended up with his plate full to brimming with the majority of the work. Which is the usual state of affairs. Jianhan being the only one of us that any right thinking person would let anywhere near a computer. A single new table has been added to the dozen or so that currently occupy the procedure editor database, the frontend code has been updated allowing our team of crack librarians to populate said table, the thorny question of how we map from our laid papers system to actualise our procedural steps - when the only thing getting laid is a letter - has been tackled, the work to orchestrate the laying of letters is currently being tested and a start has been made on updating our physical ontology with changes to the pertinent parts around legislation.

On the subject of which, as we reported last week, the all too sudden emergence of published drafts under the blahblahblah, has caused us to question our legislation model. A number of changes were made and passed via Twitter to a handful of the usual suspects. Matthew got back to express a degree of confusion around the nomenclature of some of our object properties. Helpfully pointing out that verbs such as ‘to exercise’ are usually reserved for the person doing the exercising rather than the instrument they choose to exercise it with. On Tuesday, he was kind enough to join Anya, young Robert and Michael for a pixel based chat about… well, words really. Not a bad thing to get a legislative drafter involved in. We now have a revised model with wording that we hope is more to Matthew’s taste.

The rest of the conversation drifted to more abstract matters. Matthew called into question our explicit modelling of powers and duties, going so far as to suggest that we were verging on the Napoleonic. A charge that only young Robert has previously faced. From the drafter’s point of view it would seem there are only conditionals leading to powers, although Michael still feels that ‘duties’ doesn’t feel like the worst word for conditionals contingent on a person. Sorting this out feels like a bigger job than our locked down, lethargic and - quite frankly - hungover brains can cope with for the moment. Probably requiring at least a week’s worth of statutory interpretation conference attendance to either kill or cure us. If anyone does know of such conferences, we’d be delighted to attend. Or go anywhere to be honest. Until that happens and clarity emerges, we’ve taken the decision to maintain two models - one with powers and duties left intact, and one stripped back to the bare bones of necessity. We’d like to thank Matthew for both his time and a proper good chat.

Logical procedure mapping

In other procedural news, Jayne and Michael have finished mapping, entering and checking the data for all of the components of the hot mess that is the treaty procedure according to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. Meaning we now have component maps and data for a varied assortment of committees as well as for motions to extend period A in both the Commons and the Lords. A small start has also been made on the logical treaty procedure map proper, in which those little cloud like bubbles represent the transclusion of our shiny, new, componentised maps. An almost accidental invention that we thank ourselves for on an almost daily basis.

Kind hearts / coronets

Michael has finally gotten round to adding the information that Librarian Ned has been compiling to layer over the top of David’s peerage data. Which means we now have pages for monarchs, reigns and kingdoms. And for each kingdom - or at least those we have data for - a list of reigns, peerages, ranks and letters patent. With peerages now linking to kingdoms and letters patent linking to both kingdoms and reigns.

Paul has sought and received permission to upload data for non-UK peerages as compiled by Mr Sainty. Which Ned has started to transcribe with much help from a digital copy provided by David. This week Michael made his first attempt to upload said data but messed up slightly, being unable to identify the same person being in receipt of multiple peerages. Nevertheless we do have a glimpse of at least one person holding a title in both the Peerage of Ireland and the Peerage of the United Kingdom. So that’s rather splendid. Ned and Michael plan to meet next week and come up with a new plan for identifying people being the same person. Nobody ever said clean data was easy.