Freesteel Blog » Parliament catching up on Public Whip

Parliament catching up on Public Whip

Friday, April 10th, 2009 at 3:40 pm Written by:

Just received a tip-off about the new design of the Parliament web-page heralded by this dreadful press release:

Why are we doing it?

The Parliament website aims to make Parliamentary information more accessible, show that Parliament is relevant, and enable people to connect and engage with Parliament. The aim of the redesign is to:

  • provide a site that is modern, fresh and engaging;
  • refine the routes to information, making it more accessible for the user; and
  • offer more focused, timely and dynamic content to improve the overall user experience.

One of the new bits is the Lords Division Analysis, which threatens to render our old Public Whip website (made in 2003) obsolete.

Obviously this will take them a lot of unnecessary time and expense because — for some unknown reason — they’ve chosen not to take a copy of all our lovely free code and build from it, and instead are continuing to pretend that all our years of volunteer effort simply doesn’t exist! What’s the point? Do you just enjoy wasting your precious lives shoveling code in to and out of binary holes to no effect so long as you get a wage?

Anyways, it’s only got the Lords divisions from January 2009 with URLs like so:

Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill [HL]
Lord Hanningfield moved amendment 166, after clause 79, to insert the new clause Delegation by regional development agencies. The House divided:

Contents: 33
Not Contents: 69
Result: Government victory

There are no links on the names, or links to the debate, or links to the Bill or to the amendment 166 or to clause 79 — which I think are pretty essential for this page to be of any use.

Oh, and the links to the lists of votes by party: don’t be fooled. They’re not implemented using AJAX.

Searching for other comments about this new feature only shows up a note on Page 52 of House of Lords reform chronology since 1997 document referring to a “House of Lords division analysis database” — so there must be one, from which these few pages are being derived.

So, while the highly paid staff and other software consultants cut-off in their own little world inside the Parliamentary estate appear to do their business without any notice of what people are doing on the outside, we at Public Whip don’t try to pretend that our website is the answer to everything. It isn’t. This is why I’ve programmed in the deep links to the Lords Division Analysis pages where they exist. Try it from this division from 1 April which I have motion text edited, with links, explanations and so forth to look kind of like this:

The majority of Lords voted against inserting a new clause[1] into the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill which would have actually resulted in a new clause in the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998[2] which said:

Delegation of functions by regional development agencies
Subject to the provisions of this section, a regional development agency shall have power to arrange for the discharge of any of their functions by a local authority within their area, or jointly by a group of local authorities within that area.

Following a short debate, the proposer of this motion (Lord Hanningfield) begged leave to withdraw this amendment. Unusually there was an objection to this, and the matter was pressed to a vote.[3]

This is what the people in Parliament should be doing: untangling this horrible morass of legislative cross-referencing of their own making so that normal people stand a change of finding out what the hell is going on!

Why am I still having to do it? ooo, it makes me so cross. How do they get away with being so useless for so many years on end?

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