2021 - Week 32

Short / sweet

We are well into summer recess, which means our beloved palace is emptier than ever. Librarian and clerkly colleagues have grabbed their beach towels, slathered on the sun cream, packed the holiday reading and headed off to destinations as far flung as Bognor, Bodmin and Battersea. Correspondence has tailed off - with no one on the other side of the net to return our volleys, we’ve hung up our email tennis rackets. Even our chair umpire has left the court - Young Robert has taken a well-earned vacation - and so opportunities for stopping and thinking have dwindled.

All of which has led to Librarian Jayne and ‘computational expert’ Michael spending most of the week on yet another death march through the liminal territories of our procedure maps. If you’ve been following along from home, you’ll know we’ve had a long standing snag with a symmetrical stumbling block. Motions that can be tabled in parallel might meet one of five fates: being withdrawn, lapsing at the end of a session, being not moved, being not called or finding their way through this minefield to have their question put. Without being able to evaluate the numbers having met each fate, it wasn’t possible to determine how many motions were still ‘in play’. But now we’ve taught our parsing code some rudimentary maths, meaning it can increment a value, sum two values and compare the equivalence of two values. Which means we can sum across the number of motions tabled and compare that to the sum of the numbers of each fate.

Taking our code’s new found knowledge, we’ve remapped both the draft and made negative procedures and were most of the way through the draft affirmative until we teetered and tottered into yet another pit of procedural ignorance. An approval motion subject to either a fatal and / or non-fatal amendment and then itself withdrawn, what fate, we wondered, befell the amendments. Luckily Table Office Matt was not sunning himself and quickly put our minds at rest. The amendments sit around - parentless - in the list of future business in the hope of a new approval motion being tabled. At which point they are readopted. Thanks Matt.

The next question we thought a tad trickier. Given an approval motion with fatal and / or non-fatal amendments and none of these being withdrawn, in what order should the questions be put. This, we decided, is a question that could wait until the return of a sun-kissed JO Jane. And not only because we were running late for the pub. It is possible that our own dear reader may be jumping up and down, shouting, “I know this”. In which case, answers on a postcard to the usual address will be met with great gratitude.

In another part of the forest, our Jianhan has been busy preparing the ground for our parsing code. In our procedure editor database, we had been storing the laying date in our laying table and not on the business item that the laying specialises. Which seems an odd decision in retrospect. It meant that, wherever one of our crack team of librarians had entered a date for a business item, all such dates were stored in the same place. Except for layings. Which in turn meant our parsing code assumed that things that have happened had not yet happened. Jianhan is now a good part of the way through migrating dates stored on layings to the accompanying and more generic business item. So our machines will no longer be confused. Or at least, will be less confused. Thanks Jianhan.

Remedial geographies

Before Oli sadly departed Libraryland, he sat down with Anya, Robert and Michael to talk through his election database. They thought they had taken in Oli’s lessons on the many and varied geographies that sit above constituencies but reader, they had not. Last week, Anya and Michael found themselves trying to fit together the jigsaw pieces of nations, electoral regions, shire counties, districts, shire districts, metropolitan districts and assorted flavours of unitary authority. And found themselves baffled. So this week, they called in Carl. Who managed to make more sense of it all. Anya and Michael have donated a pot of geographic data they somehow got their paws on and Carl has promised to take a look and tell them what’s good and what’s bad and what really shouldn’t be there. Thanks Carl.