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How to keep up with what's happening in parliament

Trying to work out what's going on in parliament can be a major challenge at times for charities, with a combination of arcane procedures and archaic language which almost seems designed to put off non-experts.

To their credit the parliamentary authorities have done much in recent years to make the website more user-friendly and since the election have introduced some useful innovations. For those who don’t spend much time on the parliamentary website, here are some tips on how charities can stay in touch.

1

Watch Parliament TV

Parliament TV used to be the place where parliamentary researchers’ mornings went to die, as the lack of any ability to move the video forward or back, meant that if you missed what you were listening out for, you’d have to watch the whole thing again.

Happily the improvement in the service has been significant and is now well worth using. In particular, if you want to listen to a speech rather than just read it, an excellent searchable database has been introduced.

2

Use social media

Like many other organisations, Parliament has really upped its game when it comes to social media. Committees in particular have become much more effective at advertising upcoming sessions and sharing the findings of their reports.

Away from the official channels, lobby journalist Tony Grew’s (relatively) new project, PARLY, is a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on, understand parliamentary procedure, and follow some of the lighter side of what goes on in Westminster.

3

Use Hansard

Another enduring part of the parliamentary website to get a much needed upgrade is the online Hansard.

A much more user-friendly interface and a significantly improved search function mean that the official parliamentary record is finally starting to match the excellent charity project TheyWorkForYou in terms of usability. It’s worth trying both, and seeing which you prefer.

4

Search the bill database

Most people who follow parliament will occasionally have had to give up listening to a debate on legislation because something important has come up.

Pages for individual bills have always been a great way to catch up, find out where we’re up to, what’s happened when and read associated debates.

And if you do miss any stages, rather than having to wade through the debate and to slowly work out if any amendments were passed and how they change things, Parliament now provide versions of the bill with tracked changes after every stage.

This of course doesn’t remove the complexity that can be inherent in bills, but it’s a useful tool nonetheless.

5

Learn more about parliamentary processes

While many people may just want to be able to follow parliamentary proceedings when it relates to their job, if you’re interested in how it works, there’s loads of things you can read and watch to learn more. Some top recommendations include:

Further information

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Page last edited Apr 29, 2016 History

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