Hansard at Huddersfield: Making the Parliamentary Record More Accessible

  • Jeffries, Lesley (PI)
  • Von Lunen, Alexander (CoI)
  • Alexander, Marc Gabriel (CoI)

Project: Research

Project Details


The Hansard at Huddersfield project aims to produce a user-friendly web-based version of Hansard, the record of the UK parliament, which will enable both professionals with an interest in the workings of government and the public to see how their concerns are addressed by politicians. The Hansard at Huddersfield project builds on another recent project which annotated the whole of the historic database of Hansard with 'tags' enabling users to distinguish between synonyms such as 'Labour' (Party) and 'labour' (relations) and to trace historical development of topics, despite the different vocabulary that is used at different periods. The Hansard at Huddersfield project will make this annotated database freely available through a website and offer a range of easy-to-use search facilities with associated visualisations, which make the rich resource of Hansard more useful to a wide range of people and more informative for non-expert users.

Hansard has been published since the 17th century in paper form and in recent years a scanned database of the years 1803-2005 was made available online, alongside the more recent material of ongoing parliamentary business in a different format. Hansard is, therefore, a hugely rich resource for those interested in the workings of government, the language of governance, and historical changes in the concerns of the UK parliament. However, the current methods of accessing the database are unfortunately rather inflexible and require considerable levels of knowledge of the internal workings of parliament in order to make sense of the search findings.

The team of researchers based at the University of Huddersfield is led by Professor Lesley Jeffries and includes Dr Alex von Lunen, who is the technical lead on the project. They are joined by Professor Marc Alexander, from the University of Glasgow, who was the lead researcher in the previous project which annotated the Hansard database. The team will be completed by a research programmer RA and an administrator.

The project team will work closely with collaborators from a diverse group of organisations which share a professional interest in the deliberations of parliament. These include political parties, pressure groups, local authorities and think tanks. Rather than dictating which aspects of the Hansard material will be most readily available through our website, we will work alongside this representative group of likely-end users to develop a responsive and helpful tool, which will meet real world needs. The project will thus depend on a series of consultations with these end-users, both through questionnaires and face-to-face meetings, to establish the optimum set of searches and best formats for their results to suit the end-users. The programming and design of the website will respond to this collecting of responses in order to best match the needs of future users of the site.

During the project, the team will aim to widen the group of end-users to include more and different types of end-user. In addition, the two launch events, in Huddersfield and London, will aim not only to celebrate the outcome of the project, but also to broaden the public awareness of the website and of Hansard itself.
Effective start/end date1/01/1831/12/18


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  • Hansard at Huddersfield

    Alexander Von Lunen (Speaker)

    27 Feb 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation