Posted by: John Cross
Public Sector Information Holder: UK Parliament
Information Asset: Bills
The way bills are currently published makes it excessively difficult for people/organizations to provide:
(i) email alerts where a bill mentions something of interest
(ii) information about which amendments an MP has voted for
(iii) allow people who understand bills to annotate them
(iv) many other useful services
In short, the way bills are published makes it more difficult for campaigning groups and charities to bridge the gap between the people who pass the laws and everyone else.
My ideal solution
The bills should be published as structured data. This is relatively easy and inexpensive but once it is done people and organisations can start the real work of building useful applications.
One such organisation MySociety has already gone as far as setting out how the data could be structured and has estimated the initial cost to be around £10,000. They have also estimated that no more than one full-time employee would be needed (while Parliament is in session) to published the bills in a structured form.
See technical details suggested by MySociety here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/freeourbills/techy
What I would do
I am not a software programmer so if the data was published I would have to wait for organisations like MySociety or Friends of the Earth or Unlock Democracy to build applications that I could use to:
- sign up to email alerts to find out about things I care about
- find out how my MP was voting on bills/amendments
- find out what amendments actually mean
- lobby my MP to vote for/against