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Parliamentary Digital Service

The Lord Chairman of Committees written question – answered on 11th February 2015.

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Photo of Lord Norton of Louth Lord Norton of Louth Conservative

To ask the Chairman of Committees what plans there are to act on recommendations 31 concerning access to data and 33 regarding the skills and staffing of the Parliamentary Digital Service, of the Speaker of the House of Commons’ Commission on Digital Democracy in so far as they are relevant to the House of Lords.

Photo of Lord Sewel Lord Sewel Chair, Administration and Works Committee (Lords), Chair, Freedom of Information Advisory Panel (Lords), Chair, Hybrid Instruments Committee (Lords), Chair, Liaison Committee (Lords), Chair, Committee for Privileges and Conduct (Lords), Chair, Procedure Committee (Lords), Chair, Refreshment Committee (Lords), Chair, Committee of Selection (Lords), Chair, Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee (Lords), Chair, Accommodation Steering Group Committee, Chair, Sub-Committee on Leave of Absence, Chairman of Committees, House of Lords, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

The recommendations from the Speaker of the House of Commons’ Commission on Digital Democracy are presently being actively considered by the relevant bodies in each House, including comparing existing plans and projects to the recommendations made. As most of the recommendations in the Report concern the House of Commons this answer only covers ongoing work which involves the House of Lords.

The Digital Democracy Report recommended that all published information and broadcast footage produced by Parliament should be freely available online in formats suitable for re-use. In July 2014 the House of Lords Management Board, in parallel with its House of Commons equivalent, committed to making this happen. Significant work has already been completed to develop the data.parliament.uk platform which publishes parliamentary data in easily re-usable formats. The aim is that all parliamentary data that is in the public domain will be available on data.parliament.uk but for some types of information this will take significant work. Current House of Lords Hansard is already published on data.parliament.uk in XML format; Hansard archive data going back to the year 1803 is also available as XML files. The Register of Lords’ Interests is another dataset published on data.parliament.uk platform; this is available as an API which returns data in various formats including JSON and XML. A full list of datasets currently available can be found from the Parliamentary website: www.data.parliament.uk/dataset. Further sets of data will be added in the coming months

Parliament encourages the reuse of material made available. Use of Parliamentary material is governed by the terms of the Open Parliament Licence (further details can be found on the Parliamentary website: www.parliament.uk/site-information/copyright/open-parliament-licence). The Open Parliament Licence is designed to allow Parliamentary material to be used freely and flexibly, consistent with the way public sector information is made available for use under the Open Government Licence.

The new Director of the Parliamentary Digital Service will join Parliament in March 2015 and take responsibility the new Service from April 2015. He will be tasked with developing and implementing a digital strategy for Parliament that will put digital first, making the best use of digital technology to strengthen the United Kingdom’s key democratic institution while enabling citizens to access Parliament in new and meaningful ways. The new digital strategy will outline the resources and skills needed to deliver it, as well as policies about data and plans for future ICT projects.

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