In the report, 'Are the Lords listening?', the Committee suggests radical changes to improve public engagement with the House of Lords, and Parliament in general. The Committee’s recommendations aim to make Parliament easier to understand.
The Chairman of the Committee, Lord Renton, can be seen discussing the report on Parliament's YouTube channel and will be writing about the publication of the report on Lords of the Blog.
The Committee wants parliamentary data to be freely available, and the objective of making Parliament more open and transparent is at the heart of the Committee’s recommendations, which include the following:
- information and documentation related to the core work of the House of Lords should be produced and made available online in an open standardised electronic format (not pdf) that enables people outside Parliament to analyse and re-use the data
- the integration of information on Parliament’s website, eg biographical info on Members to be linked to their voting record, their register of interests, questions tabled, etc
- Bills should be presented on Parliament’s website in a way that makes the legislative process more transparent and easier to understand
- an online system enabling people to sign up to receive electronic alerts and updates about particular Bills
- a requirement on the Government to start producing Bills in an electronic format which both complies with ‘open standards’ and is readily reusable
- an online database to increase awareness of Members’ areas of expertise
- an online debate to run in parallel with a debate in the Lords Chamber
- greater access to Parliament for factual filming
- a trial period during which voting in the Lords is filmed from within the voting lobbies
- all public meetings of Lords committees to be webcast with video and audio
- a review of the parliamentary language used in the House of Lords to make it easier for people outside the House to understand
Commenting on the report, Lord Renton said:
"We started our inquiry in January 2009, with the aim of making the workings of Parliament understandable for people. As the year has unfolded, Parliament’s reputation has sunk to a dismally low point. It is now more important than ever that we give people the information they need so that they can see what we’re doing and understand how Parliament works. What the Committee recommends will make Parliament and the House of Lords more accessible and more comprehensible.
"The inquiry focused on outreach, media and online communication and engagement. By making information easier to access, showing more engaging footage of Lords proceedings and improving a two-way communication flow, we hope to create better public understanding of the role and work of the House of Lords.
"If we are to make progress with encouraging the public to connect with the House of Lords and Parliament, it is essential that our suggestions are implemented."
The House of Lords is expected to debate the report in October, following the summer recess.