For all its routine and formal trappings, Parliament remains a crucial engine of our democracy. And lots of its workings—votes, speeches, committees—take place in the open. This independent, non-governmental site aims to make some of that information more easily accessible.

Behind the curtain

Hi. I'm Michael. (You can reach me via e-mail.) This site is a volunteer, spare-time effort of mine. I built it because I think Parliament's goings-on are important—alternately fascinating, boring, and depressing, but important—and because I believe that public information should be meaningfully public, which today means shareable and computer-readable.

In building the site, I had no shortage of inspirations. In particular, TheyWorkForYou.com does wonderful things in the UK, and there are similar sites around the world. Thanks also to How'd They Vote, Canada's OG Hansard scraper.

Some history

This site was launched in 2010. I was a computer programmer with time on my hands, I wanted to know what my MP had been doing in the House and, short of laboriously going through every day's voluminous transcripts by hand, Parliament’s dated and hard to use site wouldn’t tell me.

So I launched Open Parliament in order to quench my own curiosity, to push Parliament to do better, and to promote the idea of open data. Open data—the idea that the information governments hold is most useful when free for sharing and reuse, not locked up—was something almost nobody in government cared about then. I couldn't get access to Parliament’ data files, so I painstakingly recreated them from their website via a wobbly tower of rules—if it's a 14-pixel font, it's probably a person's name, as long as it's not within a table and it doesn't contain the words The, Some, One, or An, or Assistant—that took many days and more frustration to get right.

In the years since 2010, lots has changed for the better. The public now has access to many of Parliament’s data files. Most politicians and civil servants are aware of the idea of open data, and government data is far more easily available. And, now and then spurred on by this humble site, Parliament’s own site has improved by leaps and bounds, to the point that it’s now a better resource than Open Parliament for most people. And for those who prefer the way this site presents the goings-on of the House, I’m happy to keep it running, and to continue sharing my work in the hope that others will continue to benefit from it.

Feedback & Contact

I'm not an MP, and I don't work for the government. If you want to get in touch with your MP, find their page on this site (try the search box in the upper right), then click the Contact link on the left side of their page. Please don't contact me for help with government problems or to express general political opinions.

Questions and comments related to this site are very welcome, though! You can take a look at a feedback forum or send me an email.

Pitch in

Here's how you can help.

Programmers

This site is free software. We run on Python and Django. If you notice a bug or want to add functionality, patches are wonderful things. Reports and suggestions should go to our feedback forum, or e-mail. I've listed some ideas for projects. You're also very much encouraged to build your own projects on top of our code and data. We have a bare-bones API for Hansard transcripts, and I'm happy to add requested API functionality.

Graphic/Interface Designers

Design is crucial to making information accessible. This site is my amateur effort; suggestions and contributions are deeply welcome.

Everyone

Send suggestions and problem reports via our feedback forum or e-mail. Use our data. And encourage your representatives and communities to support open data.

And while this is emphatically a nonprofit project, we do have significant technical costs, so donations are much appreciated.