Thanks to funding from the Welsh Government, our parliamentary website TheyWorkForYou now includes debates and a list of all Members of the Senedd, in both English and Welsh. Find them via www.theyworkforyou.com/senedd/ and cy.theyworkforyou.com/senedd/.
Completists will be glad to know that, with this addition TheyWorkForYou now covers all the law-making parliaments of the UK.
Those familiar with the site will know that the email alerts service is one of TheyWorkForYou’s key features. Anyone can sign up, for free, to receive emails when their representatives speak or vote, or when their topics of interest come up in debates. We send millions of these email alerts out per year, and they’re also indispensable for charities, companies and governments who use them to monitor parliamentary discussions on topics relating to their work.
Alerts are now also available for the Senedd, to help people and organisations living and working in Wales — and anyone else who’s interested — to stay informed about what is said and done in the devolved parliament.
When users in Wales enter their postcode on TheyWorkForYou’s homepage, they will see the members of Senedd as well as their MP in the UK’s national parliament.
They’ll be able to check when their Senedd Member last voted, and what they’ve been saying in debates; as well as using the site’s powerful search function to access previous mentions of their topic of interest. More technical users may also use the data for their own projects through TheyWorkForYou’s API.
We have wanted to add the Senedd for many years. Now, thanks to support from the Welsh Government, we’ve been able to complete the work needed to make it available in TheyWorkForYou’s fully accessible format.
This is a continuation of our mission to make the UK’s Parliaments easier for everyone to access, understand and engage with. Through the regular publication of debates, plus TheyWorkForYou’s search and alert functions, we want to support Welsh citizens and civil society to play an active part in democracy.
Our WriteToThem service, which allows people to send an email to their elected representatives quickly and easily, already covered members of the Senedd. The two sites link together so that, having checked your Senedd Member’s activity on TheyWorkForYou, if you wish to respond to them, you can click through to WriteToThem and send an email.
Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution at the Welsh Government, said: “We’ve been pleased to work with mySociety as part of our efforts to involve as many people in our democracy as possible. Being able to follow topics and receive updates about what happens in the Senedd will help people see how we discuss the issues that matter to them most. We’ll continue to work to increase democratic engagement and open up democracy to more people.”
Our own Chief Executive Louise Crow added, “By extending our coverage – and especially email alerts – to the Senedd, we hope to help people and organisations living and working in Wales stay informed about what is said and done in their devolved parliament”.
This addition represents dedicated effort from staff members. Matthew Somerville made TheyWorkForYou work as a bilingual site and wrote the code to work with Senedd data. Alex Parsons and Struan Donald also contributed significantly.
Translation has been diligently handled by Wyn Williams. TheyWorkForYou is open source software, and this work — in particular, the import of Members — built on previous code submitted by Ross Bowen and Sam Knight. Thanks to them all.
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mySociety’s Head of Research Dr Rebecca Rumbul will be speaking at the first ever Welsh Citizens’ Assembly next week. She’ll be exploring how citizens might more easily feed into the questions posed to ministers and the First Minister in the National Assembly for Wales.
Questions are a fundamental part of all of the UK’s parliaments, most famously in the form of PMQs, the half hour every Wednesday when MPs can raise any issue they deem important with the Prime Minister.
In the devolved parliaments there are also various formats for Q&As, both written and oral. But, Rebecca will argue, there are fundamental problems inherent in all of them, from a lack of representation of the views of the general public, to the political motivations that lead to many questions lacking meaningful substance.
Of course, a Citizens’ Assembly is most concerned with hearing from the general populace, and Rebecca will go on to present our recent research into the digital tools that can help with that process, while examining the pros and cons of each.
Rebecca is one of several speakers who will also include Dr Diana Stirbu and Professor Graham Smith. The event is being co-facilitated by Involve and you can keep up to date with the Citizens’ Assembly’s activities on their dedicated website.