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Legislation: Internet

Volume 504: debated on Thursday 21 January 2010

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if the House of Commons Commission will bring forward arrangements to ensure that legislation introduced in the House is published on the internet in the format recommended by mysociety.org in its Free Our Bills campaign. (312170)

The House Administration is currently considering, together with its counterpart in the House of Lords, a proposal for a Procedural Data Programme to update the IT systems holding data about the proceedings of the House, including Bills and amendments to them, so that the data is made available in an open standardised electronic format. The programme would aim to produce Bills and amendments in an electronic format which both complies with open standards and is readily re-usable so that it can be exchanged between parliamentary systems and made available to the public for further processing by others. This output would be similar to what is being requested in the Free our Bills campaign, and also to what is referred to by the House of Lords Information Committee in its recent report “Are the Lords Listening? Creating Connections Between People and Parliament (HL Paper 138—1, 2008-09)”. The work would be undertaken in consultation with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, the Office of Public Sector Information (responsible for publishing Acts) and the Cabinet Office.

Staff are working with the existing software supplier to improve the quality of the XML output from the Bill drafting software. In addition, staff are examining the possibilities of using Bill data in its existing form to publish improved information on the parliamentary website, such as by linking Bill texts to existing Acts of Parliament which the Bill would amend. Some Bill texts showing the amendments made at Committee stage are already published on the parliamentary website (for example, the Financial Services Bill).