Tinkering With Parliament Data APIs: Commons Written Questions And Parliamentary Written Answers

So…. inspired by @philbgorman, I had a quick play last night with Parliament Written Questions data, putting together a recipe (output) for plotting a Sankey diagram showing the flow of questions from Members of the House of Commons by Party to various Answering Bodies for a particular parliamentary session.

The response that comes back from the Written Questions API includes a question uin (unique identification number?). If you faff around with date settings on the Parliamentary Questions web page you can search for a question by this ID:

Here’s an example of the response from a build download of questions (by 2015/16 session) from the Commons Written Questions API, deep filtered by the uin:

If you tweak the _about URI, which I think refers to details about the question, you get the following sort of response, built around a numeric identifier (447753 in this case):

There’s no statement of the actual answer text in that response, although there is a reference to an answer resource, again keyed by the same numeric key:

The numeric key from the _about identifier is also used with both the Commons Written Questions API and the Parliamentary Questions Answered API.

For example, questions:

And answers:

The uin values can’t be used with either of these APIs, though?

PS I know, I know, the idea is that we just follow resource links (but they’re broken, right? the leading lda. is missing from the http identifiers), but sometimes it’s just as easy to take a unique fragment of the URI (like the numeric key) and then just drop it into the appropriate context when you want it. In this case, contexts are

IMHO, any way… ;-)

PPS for a full list of APIs, see explore.data.parliament.uk