back to article Two centuries of Hansard to move online

Parliament hopes to place all Hansard reports - from 1804 to 2004 - online by the end of this year. Its information management department is using optical character recognition (OCR) technology to turn three million printed pages of the record of Parliamentary proceedings into digitised text. Some is already online, although …


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  1. Sam
    Thumb Up

    Will we be able to search...

    ..for the phrase; "The right honourable member is a snivelling little git"?

    I know it was said once, but I can't remember any details.

  2. Dunstan Vavasour

    Distributed Proofreaders

    Surely this would be ideal content to be passed through the Distributed Proofreaders process?

  3. Paul

    @ Sam

    It was Brian Sedgemore

    "Sedgemore later distinguished himself as a member of the Treasury Select Committee by shouting "snivelling little git" at the then Chancellor, Nigel Lawson. On being quizzed on this in a television interview, Sedgemore said he had probably been wrong to use the word "little", because Lawson was, in fact, fat."

  4. Anonymous Coward

    What happend to 2005-2008 then?

    Surely, its MORE useful if the parliamentary procedings of TODAY get documented in something close to real time, and appear no later than TOMORROW?

  5. umacf24

    Community Punishment

    If you don't want to pay to send criminals to prison, I would think that typing in committee minutes from a 1897 Hansard would convince anyone that they were suffering a harsh punishment. In fact you could express the sentence that way: "you will transcribe one hundred and fifty inches of Hansard and may God have mercy on your soul"

  6. Funky Dennis

    Isn't there enough

    of Hansard on the web already, what with his "amazing" Oscars speech. Twat.

  7. Dan


    They are documented in something close to real time - poor demented souls work through the night to transcribe this stuff from the day's proceedings, and issue it in various formats, including to the interweb. Apparently they weren't even stopped by the blitz, although it was all paper back then.

  8. Christopher Woods
    Thumb Up

    Wow, for once this is money well spent

    I wholeheartedly agree with this. No better way to show evidence of democracy in action (even if people criticise the parties ;) than by making every single comment, question and reply publicly available to the country's citizens!

    This is really something quite special I think and deserves more attention, we're all guilty of being too passé about these kind of technical milestones, but imagine trying to do this five, even ten years ago. I'm proud of this country's history and the fact that we're one of the few countries left which has a partially-codified constitution - yet we're stll going, with no revolutions for a LONG time, and it all just seems to 'work' most of the time! The very fact that I'll be able to leaf through hundreds of years of previously-unviewable documents detailing every tiny step and decision made is absolutely fascinating, it almost makes it feel like living history... There's something intrinsically British about the whole endeavour.

    Plus it's something to do in my lunch break. Top marks to the Hansard Department!

  9. frymaster

    RE:What happend to 2005-2008 then?

    I'm wondering what your agenda is here. As I look on their site (6pm 6th of March) They have stuff up from after 8pm on the 5th. What exactly is it you feel is not put online fast enough?

  10. Byron Langslow


    "Around 95 per cent of searches come through Google. "No one uses our search engine, which is really galling," said Brook. But he added that this means people are finding the nascent system as part of general search, rather than specifically looking for Hansard."

    not so in my opinion.

    I use google to search many sites, because their own search engine is so apallingly designed. IE helmet regulations <error code> <error description>

    This is the only way to get any serious results out of these poor sites (only 2 mentioned. I could be here all day).

    Does the hansard site only realise the redirect is coming from google? or is google passing the search string as well to the site. how do they know its only a general search?

  11. Steve Roper
    Black Helicopters

    To make historical revisionism possible?

    "Wood said the main aim was to avoid expensive conservation work on printed versions of Hansard..."

    Which means that the originals won't be preserved. So the only way future generations will be able to read historical parliamentary decisions will be digital text - which can be easily edited.

    Given the way UK gov is treating its citizens right now, and the sort of police state it is well on its way to establishing, why do I get the feeling that allowing the paper originals to rot leaving only editable data is an initiative of the Ministry of Truth?

    Don't get me wrong here - I absolutely agree that parliamentary records should be publicly available online. But the originals must still be preserved. Otherwise, the temptation to alter the past will, as other temptations in the hands of powermongers have shown, become actuality.

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