Parliamentary history in the United Kingdom stretches back eight centuries, and is being added to day by day as the parliaments and assemblies of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland meet, debate and legislate. The records of parliamentary proceedings, historical and contemporary, are almost all available in electronic form, but using these resources can be time consuming and cumbersome as every resource is different: in particular, each uses its own approach to metadata, which makes it impossible to browse or search the collections as a whole.
The LIPARM project links the parliamentary record together for the first time by creating a unified metadata scheme for all of its key elements. People, bills, acts, items of business, debates, divisions and sessions are all be described by the scheme and are linked together across resources which are currently spread out and isolated. For the first time, it is possible to trace a given MPâ€™s entire voting record or to find every speech they made. It is possible to follow the passage of every bill or act, and every contribution to the debates that accompany it.
The project has three main strands. The first is the metadata schema itself, Parliamentary Metadata Language (PML) which allows the contents of the parliamentary record to be described in a controlled and systematic way. The second is the creation of authority lists for key components of the record, including lists for people, sessions, items of legislation and division: each component receives a unique identifier, allowing it to be linked to from any digitised resource. The third component is this pilot union catalogue, which offers metadata records for two important collections, demonstrating how they can be linked together using the unified scheme.