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Written Questions and Answers

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Online Access, Preservation, Records Management

We've already posted about the Parliamentary Archives' efforts to preserve and provide access to digital records produced by the Houses of Parliament; but the nature of records produced by the Houses are often difficult to understand. We can illustrate this by bringing you an example of what kind of born digital records we provide access to.

Parliament lends scrutiny to what the Government does. Written questions and answers (known internally as 'Q n A') are just one of many mechanisms which allow MPs and Peers to examine government. They allow Members of Parliament to ask government Ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of their government departments. The Daily Report is a compilation of the written answers submitted by government Ministers (and by other bodies such as the Church Commissioners and the House of Commons Commission).

On each day that either of the Houses sit, a Daily Report is generated, one for the House of Commons and one for the House of Lords. These Daily Reports are now being created digitally, and actively preserved and made accessible through the Archives online catalogue Portcullis.

Let's take a closer look at an example and use the Daily Report with the catalogue reference HL/PO/OF/QA/1/1. As you can see from the catalogue record there is a detailed description of what answers and statements are included from the Daily Report of 25th February 2015. Responses from all manner of subjects, from railway lines to nutrition research!

Click on the URL (at the bottom of the catalogue description) which takes you to a page where you will be able to view and download the documents. These include the Daily Report, any attachments, and a direct link to the original Daily Report.

What we have been able to do is design an IT solution that enables the Report to be catalogued in our archive catalogue and ingested into the digital repository with a minimal amount of human intervention, we are systematically working our way through other Parliamentary resources to be able to ensure we can look after things properly for the future.

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