I was asked by a project manager to identify all the different data types in the Lords Business, the document used in the House of Lords when the House is sitting that tells everyone what is happening when. Having built the Microsoft Word templates and created the functional workflow I only understood the document in terms of there being sections of information that came from multiple sources, typography and how to compile the final paper.
In order to carry out the task I sat down and read ‘How Parliament works’ by Robert Rogers and Rhodri Walters which gave me a good understanding of the procedures of the two houses. I then picked a bill spearheaded by Lord Darzi, because he’d taken out my gall bladder, walking through the stages in existing documents. I learnt that there were several stages within the life cycle of a bill so I created a workflow document that described what happened when and the specific words and phrases that were used. Whenever someone dropped by the office they were given a coffee and made to walk around the table reading the document to make sure that what I had created could be easily understood in a short space of time. Needless to say their coffee was still warm when they got to drink it.
While reading the Hansard transcript of one debate I realised that it had terminated quite suddenly which seemed very odd. I then discovered one of the peers had fallen ill in the chamber and that Lord Darzi had leapt across the chamber to give him medical assistance. Needless to say the procedure of the bill that I’d chosen took a somewhat circuitous route through the house.
The outcome of identifying all the data types for bills, secondary legislation and all the other entries that make up the Lords Business was that I was able to read the paper from cover to cover. I can’t tell you how exciting that was!