Parliament and Whitehall spit out an alarmingly large amount of information on a daily basis. One of the key tasks for anyone working in public affairs and policy roles is to be aware of and use that information appropriately.
So how do I monitor the relevant information?
Theyworkforyou is a website that allows you to search a a good deal of the information that is produced by Parliament in a far more user-friendly way than Hansard. Need to find out what an MP has said recently on a Particular topic? No problem. Want to move from looking at a particular MP’s contribution to a particular debate, to a more general look at what has been said on a topic recently? Easily done.
The site also covers activity within The Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Parliament, though coverage of the latter currently has limited functionality.
You can use keyword searches with Boolean operators (i.e. ‘AND’, ‘OR’), search by Parliamentarian, Bill Committee, Questions, or ‘recent activity’. You can also set up email alerts to track particular phrases or Parliamentarians.
Very helpfully, all the data taken from Hansard has a direct link to its source in Hansard, making navigation between the two effortless. Using Theyworkforyou is a far quicker and more user-friendly experience than navigating between debates and Parliamentary activity in Hansard, though it doesn’t seek to be a replacement.
Like Theyworkforyou, The Public Whip is designed to help those outside of the Westminster bubble access and make sense of the daily business of Parliament. It’s a goldmine for anyone working in public affairs too!
Any division in Parliament can be cross-referenced against how the participating Parliamentarians voted, or the voting history of a particular Parliamentarian can be cross referenced against particular divisions very easily. Rebellions and other interesting things are highlighted, and again, the relevant portions of Hansard are always easily accessible.
Like theyworkforyou.com, Edms.org.uk works by taking publicly available Parliamentary data and displaying it in a far more user-friendly fashion.
The most useful part of the website is the ability to perform keyword searches of EDMs to find information relating to your particular sector or client issue, which can be a useful starting point for finding Parliamentarians interested in your issue.
Usefully, the website also categories all EDMs into broad topics like ‘Police’ or ‘Eastern Europe’, so you won’t simply be relying on choosing the right keywords. The website contains links to the raw data it uses, so you can check how it is arriving at the results if you are curious.
Mapit allows the visitor to input a UK postcode and immediately find out which constituency of the UK Parliament, constituency of the European Parliament, London Assembly constituency, Borough or Council Ward that address is in, see the boundaries of that administrative area, and see any other administrative areas that border or overlap with it.
Mapit has obvious uses for anyone interested in understanding which administrative boundaries a particular geographic point or household would fall under – and therefore which elected representative would be appropriate to contact. It’s also a very useful resource for anyone who needs to quickly see ward boundaries for plotting a delivery round!
Mapit is free to use for non-profit purposes, but all other users will need to get a license.
So, next time you need to gather information about a politician for a client or a colleague, remember these tools – go bookmark them now, and you can save hours of time further down the line!
If you found this list useful, why not send it on to someone else who would benefit from it too?