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Digital Technology

Volume 490: debated on Monday 30 March 2009

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what proposals the House of Commons Commission has considered in respect of in relation to the use of digital technology to encourage wider public involvement in (a) the work of select committees and (b) the legislative process; and if he will make a statement. (267444)

The House has increasingly used digital technology to encourage wider public involvement in the work of Parliament. Select committees have built on the web pages that each has on:

www.parliament.uk

and use new interactive tools to access views and opinions from a much broader audience. Since May 2007 the Parliament Web Centre has set up and managed 14 web forums (eConsultations) on behalf of select or joint committees. Outside organisations and individuals can now not only follow and learn about committee activity online, but can also submit their evidence digitally and watch the committee hearings as they happen or archived on:

www.parliamentlive.tv

Forums have been particularly successful in increasing the level of engagement. Their use has been consistently encouraged by the Liaison Committee, most recently in its report on the Work of Committees in 2007-08 (HC 291) at para. 105.

In terms of the legislative process, enhancements to online bills and related information have significantly improved access to the legislative process for the wider public:

http://services.parliament.uk/bills

Further improvements later this year will include bill texts showing amendments made in Committee. Work is continuing on clause-by-clause indexing of bills and on simultaneous presentation of explanatory notes with bill text. We will also soon launch explanatory content on the passage of a bill through Parliament.

The Web Centre has also used Twitter and Flickr as channels which can engage with people about the work of Parliament. UK Parliament now has more than 4,000 followers on Twitter and 100,000 visitors to Flickr who can follow the work of committees as well as the progress of legislation. Further proposals for the use of social media and networks to engage people with the work of Parliament and its committees are also being considered.