Links to various useful resources dotted around the Parliament website, for all those wanting to demystify the Parliamentary process:
- Parliament TV. Whatever is being broadcast from Parliament, including Select Committees and Public Bill Committees, will be here.
- Commons Hansard by date. Daily record of debates in the Commons and Westminster Hall, as well as written answers and corrections.
- Summary agenda and order of business. Shows the detailed order of business for the House on any given day. Very useful to compare to the actual hansard record in terms of seeing what questions were scheduled to be asked but weren’t due to lack of time.
- Future business. What’s happening in the Commons predominantly over the next week.
- Parliament Advanced Search feature. Allows you to search for key words and phrases amongst all Parliamentary publications, including PQs, debates and research briefings.
- Bills and legislation. Main gateway for Bills and draft Bills (example: Energy Bill page)
- Deposited papers. Statements from Ministers and Departments not made verbally in the chamber.
- Publications and records. All Parliamentary publications, including hansards of Lords debates and Public Bill committees.
- The Question Book. Shows all questions that have been tabled by MPs, but not yet answered.
- The Parliament Glossary. Includes explanations of lots of parliamentary jargon.
This part of the 2011 Census website gives excel spreadsheets, broken down by region and by local authority, gives counts of a number of different kinds of demographic, social and economic data. I’ve linked directly to what I think are some of the most useful and instructive datasets to inform local political debates:
- Adults not in employment and dependent children and persons with long-term health problem or disability for all households
- Lone parent households with dependent children
- Health and provision of unpaid care
- Rooms, bedrooms and central heating
- Car or van availability
- Communal establishment residents
- Qualifications and students
- Economic activity
- Hours worked
- National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification
See all of the tables here: Release: 2011 Census, Key Statistics for Local Authorities in England and Wales
The Census website also summarises national findings broken down into the categories of ‘who we are,’ ‘how we live,’ and ‘what we do.’ It’s a good way of getting familiar with what the different categories refer to. Read 2011 Census: Key Statistics for England and Wales, March 2011
A great resource for all political researchers, and in general people who want to appear more knowledgeable on a subject than they are, is the House of Commons Library. The external HoC Library website is a bit less accessible than what is available for researchers with access to the Parliamentary Intranet, but there’s still a lot of good briefings on pretty much every subject that’s been debated in modern politics. The service also includes briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) which covers more science-based policy issues, including energy generation and climate change.
Research Briefings are longer, more in depth papers; standard notes are more brief summaries of an issue for someone who needs to be brought up to speed fast.
The Campaign for Freedom of Information has produced this very handy guide on how to do a good FOI request.
The guide includes a model letter, advice on which body to contact, and two excellent tables at the end (p26 onwards) listing kinds of data that can or can’t be exempt due to public interest arguments.