Parliamentary Committees Treemap

Can’t sleep, can’t work do “proper work”, so I’ve taken the day off as holiday to play out some more of the thoughts and momentum that cropped up during Dev8D… Like this treemap of parliamentary committee membership (as of 1/2/10).

Parliamenttary committees treemap

Here’s the tale…;-)

Whilst resisting playing with the new Guardian Politics API (and absolutely dreading the consequences any other topic specific APIs they open up might have on my time!) I did have a quick peek at at it to see whether or not it had any details about Parliamentary committees. It didn’t, but just looking upped my desire enough to pop over to the TheyWorkForYou API to see if they had any appropriate calls: what I wanted was a list of committees, and the membership thereof… (if you’ve read Council Committee Treemaps From OpenlyLocal you’ll maybe guess why!;-)

And it seems they do – getCommittee will “[f]etch the members of the committee that match [a specified] name – if more than one committee matches, return their names” and for a specified committee “[r]eturn the members of the committee as they were on [a specified] date”.

What I wanted was to be able to “select all” committees, which there’s no explicit switch for; but a search on the letter ‘e’ did turn up quite a comprehensive list, so as long as they’re using a free text search, I guess this has the same effect!

So I can get a list of committees, and now I want the members of each one. Pipework, I think:-)

First up, fetch a list of the committees from the TheyWorkForYou API. Then, for each committee, generate the URL that will pull pack the committee membership on a particular date.

For each committee, we now annotate the committee item with the membership of the committee and do a little tidying.

(In terms of API calls, this pipe makes N+1 calls to the TheyWorkForYou API, where the first call returns N committees.)

This pipe gives a JSON feed containing a list of committees annotated with the names and ID of committee members. The structure is not totally dissimilar to the structure I used for the Openlylocal committees, so I should be able to reuse that code if I can make the representations match.

So how do they differ? In no particular order, the differences are:
– the Openlylocal committee representation elaborates each member with a .party attribute which does not exist in the TWFY member lists, as well as using .first_name and last_name rather than .name to name the committee member;
– the TheyWorkForYou list does not have an .id attribute for each committee, which the Openlylocal committee list does have, and which is required for the treemap tooltips to work.

First task, then, is to annotate the committee membership list with each member’s party. A call to another TheyWorkForYou API call ( returns a list of MPs and their party.

It’s easy enough to elaborate the committee list with this information – create a party lookup table and then annotate as required… While we’re at it, we can do a fudge with the name and id…;-)

var partyLookup=[];
for (var i=0; i< mpDetails.length; i++){

for (i=0; i<mysocMPcommittees.value.items.length; i++){
  var currComm=mysocMPcommittees.value.items[i];"cid"+i;
  for (var j=0;j<currComm.members.length; j++){

It was then easy enough to just plug this into the code I’d used to display the Openlylocal treemap. You can see it here.

Looking over the TheyWorkForYou API, I guess it would be possible to do a similar sort of thing to map the parties of people who spoke in debates? (I’m not sure if there’s data on votes/divisions with a party breakdown? If so, that would be good to plot too, with hierarchy based on : division, ayes/nays, party, so we could see defections, as well as relative sizes of the votes?

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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