Every MP has a unique identification code which we record against every single contribution he/she makes in Parliament. Needless to say, there is a lot that is said in Parliament for every day that it sits. Typically a parliamentary hansard is 90 pages long. Therefore we only record statements that are:
(i) Over 5 lines long;
(ii) Less than 5 lines long, but thematic / procedural;
(iii) Disruptive / Expunged
Each statement is classified by Method of Contribution (e.g Written Question, Point of Order etc), Topic (e.g Economic Development, Agriculture, Resettlement etc), Type of debate (e.g Bill debate, Adjournment Motion etc) and the language that the contribution was given in. Additionally, depending on the method of contribution, we also record the number of lines of the Hansard that such a contribution took.
Presently this task is done completely manually, but we have a cutting edge automation tool under development, which will lower the administrative burden (e.g line counting of hansards) and allow individual coders to spend their time more efficiently.
It is a list of 27 categories under which we classify all parliamentary activity. Following are
some of the categories that we use:
1. Written Question
2. Bill / Regulation / Order
3. Adjournment Motion - Oral Contribution
5. Disruptive Contribution
6. Expunged Statement
7. Oral Contribution
9. Question by Private Notice
10. Prime Ministers Question
13. Private Member’s Motion
14. Adjournment Question
A disruptive contribution is used to classify interruptions, typically during parliamentary debate, which are non-thematic and have been used as a tool to stall or detract from debate. The aim is to record the MP’s who are stalling the legislative function of Parliament. This is not meant to punish those who are raising valid points in an untimely fashion.
A "point of order - other" is a disruption caused by an MP in Parliament, when he raises a point of order, thereby causing the Speaker to pause the debate, but then makes no attempt to mention how the other MP’s contribution has been procedurally deficient, especially in light of the standing orders of parliament. This is coded to ascertain how points of orders are abused. This is primarily seen as a method to make a speech/point out of turn, or alternatively as a tool to interrupt another MP midway through a speech.
We surveyed MPs across the political spectrum and were able to compute appropriate productive time scores for each of the 39 methods of contribution, based on either the number of instances of a particular input e.g per written question, or by volume, based on mins of preparation time per line e.g adjournment motion - oral contribution. Based on our findings we created a scoring guide which stipulated values for each of our methods of contribution e.g.each written question receives a score of 30 minutes of productive time. As the scoring system is applied across all MPs, there is no scope for individual bias to be accommodated within our system.
There are 65 topics and these are all classified under 15 key topic headers. If you refer the "topics" tab on the website, you will find the fifteen key topic headers at the top which are
1. Agriculture, Plantations, Livestock & Fisheries
2. Natural Resources & Environment
3. Reconciliation & Resettlement
4. Trade & Industry
5. Welfare & Social Services
6. Justice, Defense & Public Order
7. National Heritage, Media & Sports
8. Economy and Finance
10. Labour & Employment
11. Technology, Communications & Energy
12. Governance, Administration and Parliamentary Affairs
14. Urban Planning, Infrastructure and Transportation
15. Rights & Representation
It is fundamental to the research output of Manthri.lk that we record the areas that are being discussed by MPs. However, as there are 42 standard topics, it was felt that the data could also be aggregated into key topic headers, which could provide a more holistic rank which is better suited for cross-comparison of MPs.
The non-participation list is recorded against each topic. This is a list of all the MPs who have not contributed on the respective topic.
We believe that MPs should productively contribute in Parliament. Whilst we can’t assess the qualitative input of MPs, we can assess the effort, in terms of productive time, that MPs put towards their roles as legislators. By scoring and ranking MPs we can reward those who are working hard, sometimes with little media coverage, whilst incentivising others to improve themselves given the enhanced transparency of the parliamentary process.
The top rank means you have achieved the highest score (highest number of productive minutes) for the respective topic or overall rank. This is not a quality score, but illustrates the aggregate number of productive minutes that have been put in by the given MP.
These signify the score each MP has in the given topic area. The topic ranking MP has a score of 100. This is a hybrid calculation that incorporates elements of a normalized z-score and a normalized ranking, which seeks to provide the best incentives for MPs to improve their parliamentary performance.
We are not judging MPs. We are merely analysing public information and disseminating it in a way that illustrates otherwise unobserved parliamentary patterns.
We have provided a basic activity log for each MP’s last 50 contributions. In stating the exact location in the hansard of the mentioned contribution and also providing a full access downloadable hansard archive, any user can cross-check our coding process.
This initiative has been launched in the model of Social Venture Capital Investment. Initial contributing partners have been Verite Research (Private) Limited, Saberion (Pvt) Ltd and National Endowment for Democracy.
As the venture proves its social benefits, it is hoped that the private sector, research institutions and civil society in Sri Lanka will also join as contributors and enable this initiative to be improved and sustained.
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