MySociety, of TheyWorkForYou and WhatDoTheyKnow fame have started the Free Our Bills campaign to get Parliament to provide upcoming bills online in a structured data format so that anyone can publish, compare, comment or do whatever they like on them easily and quickly.
So far MySociety’s attempts to persuade Parliamentary officials to this fairly (£10,000) easy task have been rebuffed. No-one seems to know exactly why but I suspect the officials are struggling to see the benefit to them and their bosses of opening Bills to more scrutiny. Not many people like to open themselves to general, public criticism. Much nicer to sit at the desk crafting away basking in your glory. However the benefit of freeing the bills would be greater scrutiny and better law-making.
I’ve a question and a comment for those blocking the campaign. When you decided to work at Parliament was your aim to make legislation better or worse? I suspect that before you joined you thought you could get the laws better written. There are others like you who haven’t joined but feel we have something to add.
The comment is also simple. It will happen. People will take the text of bills and republish them. They might get it a little wrong. They might have an agenda. You might get some biased publishing of bills. Wouldn’t it be better if you let an official version online so that more accuracy and measured discussion of bills can take place?