2023 - Week 5

Week five felt particularly busy. Calendars were certainly occupied. A number of whiteboards filled to bursting. A great number of meetings happened. But, looking back, not much seems to have been achieved. A lesson, perhaps for all of us.

Librarians Jayne and Claire and their computational colleagues Young Robert and Michael spent a pleasant hour in pixels, trying to work out what would need to change in the procedure editor database to allow for the tracking of legislation of a more primary nature. Not much it turned out. Bits of our new and improved bill model were purloined and what had been a simple laying model has now taken on a more generic making available flavour. The actual work still requires planning, but we feel we’re one step closer to making good on our promise to lend Legislation Office Liam a hand with the tracking of legislative consent motions. More soon we hope.

On matters of mapping

Librarians Ayesha and Jayne continue to make magnificent progress, dotting i’s and crossing t’s on our legislative reform order maps and data. They’re now ten maps down, with one to go. A thankless task for which we thank them.

Jayne and Michael came to the conclusion some time back that common components of our procedure maps are not quite as aligned as they probably should be. Before jumping in to refactor pixels, they decided to put in the effort to write out some of the logic longhand. The beginnings of a set of motion cheat sheets have begun to emerge. More work beckons on the cascading effects of the withdrawal or revocation of instruments and the withdrawal of motions. Once that’s done, Messrs Korris and Hennessy can expect to hear from us.

Procedure parsing

It goes without saying that there’s little point putting all this effort into machine-readable procedure maps if the machines can’t then parse them. To that end - in brief moments between slurping triples from one store to another - our Jianhan has been busy adapting our parsing code to take account of recent developments to our procedure model. To that end, he’s currently in the midst of making parsed steps both step depth and occurrence score compliant. Marvellous stuff.

On matters of modelling

Following an unfortunate explosion in early December, Michael’s “computer” has still not fully recovered, being little more than an internet connected typewriter. That said, it can at least now draw pictures. A step forward, if not a leap. With pixel-poking possible once more, we could return to the work begun in November - modelling bishops. Librarian Ned and computational wingmen Young Robert and Michael have a made a small start on a relational model for English dioceses of the Church of England, their incumbents, the C of E parliamentary seniority ladder, and the occupants of the rungs of said ladder. Next steps usually involve the making of some spreadsheets, the loading of said spreadsheets into a database and the poking of said data with some code. With Michael’s machine unable to run code, it looks like we may need a new plan.

In other modelling news, Michael took a trip to the House of Lords Printed Paper Office in our ongoing search for answers to questions around what’s a parliamentary paper and what’s just a paper. We remain baffled. Never not selfish, Michael is hoping he can shift the problem off his plate and make it part of the paper type taxonomy, thereby removing the paper / parliamentary paper split from assorted models. He awaits the permission of Librarian Anya.

On the registering of interests

Young Robert and Michael have been busying themselves with poking around the competency question answerability dashboard code, recently delivered by our by friends at Open Innovations. Unfortunately - and we may have mentioned this - Michael’s machine is incapable of running code. Fortunately, Robert’s machine is fresh from the Apple Store and has no such qualms. So that code is now running and we think we’re starting to understand it. The standard method of deleting a bit and seeing what breaks proving a more than adequate approach.

On order being standing

Monday evening saw information management crime fighter Anya and boy wonder Michael reprise their role as Rad and Tom’s warm-down act, once again rolling out their presentation on standing orders vs FRBR. This time to a bunch of digital humanities folks at Umeå University. Though, sadly, in pixels, not person. The event was organised by friend of the family, Paul. Thanks for the invite Paul.

New procedures this way come?

As befits their name, the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee usually reserve all comments for legislation of a secondary nature. This week saw a rare exception as the SLSC issued their first ever report on a bill. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the subject of the report was the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which they thought skeletal in nature, with the potential to “lead to a significant shift of power not to Parliament but to ministers.”

What’s of more interest to your regular correspondents is the SLSC’s call for enhanced scrutiny procedures for both the modification provisions - including the possibility of amendments - and the delegated powers provisions. With a jaunty wave to JO Jane, we stand ever ready for more procedure mapping. Should the need arise.