I’ve just sent the following to my local MP, Richard Benyon. I’ve given him a bit of grief lately, regarding party-political content on his apolitical Communications Allowance-funded website. I hope he’s forgiven me.
I am writing to ask you to sign EDM 2141, tabled in July by Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson, in support of the Free Our Bills campaign by charity MySociety.
MySociety’s pioneering work is recognised worldwide. You will probably have seen their site, TheyWorkForYou, which makes Hansard infinitely more usable on the internet. They are seeking Parliament’s assistance to do something similar with bills, to allow the public to see the laws being drafted and published on their behalf.
Whilst recognising the motion has been tabled by a LibDem member, and that EDM signatures tend to be motivated by party affiliations, I would note that senior figures in your own party have spoken in favour of freeing public data. For example, David Cameron stated in February 2008 that he would ‘require local authorities to publish information online and in a standardised format. That way, it can be collected and used by the public and third party groups.’ This is precisely what MySociety is proposing for Westminster.
MySociety’s track record shows that they can and will deliver. They are proposing changes which will take little time, cost little money, and have no material impact on current working practices.
I urge you to show your support for this important principle; and to take a few moments to sign the EDM in question.
I encourage you to do likewise. But write your own letter.