[Open-Legislation] Introduction

Jeni Tennison jeni at jenitennison.com
Mon Feb 14 16:35:22 UTC 2011


By way of introduction, I'm Jeni Tennison, the lead developer on legislation.gov.uk at The Stationery Office (TSO), which currently holds the contract for publishing legislation for The National Archives (TNA).

On 14 Feb 2011, at 10:40, John Levin wrote:
> The (UK) National Archives have a very partial dataset for legislation before 1988, and a complete set after that date (though I'm not sure how quickly new legislation is put up).

Yes. The content for legislation.gov.uk comes from three main sources. First, there is the as-enacted form of legislation since 1988. Second, there is the Statute Law Database, which contains revised versions of legislation (with varying levels of up-to-dateness), but only those items that were in force on the base date of 1st February 1991 (1st January 2006 for Northern Ireland legislation). Third, there is the OCR'd as-enacted form of a subset of pre-1988 primary legislation. I think it's fair to say that our main focus is on providing legislation for current users rather than historical research, I'm afraid.

New legislation is published on legislation.gov.uk as a PDF almost immediately, and for most types of legislation this is followed a few days later by its availability in XML/HTML. You can see new legislation that's available on the new legislation page at:


> As far as I know, there isn't a mark-up standard for legislation. There are some tantalizing references to Crown XML on archived UK govt pages:
> http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100202100434/opsi.gov.uk/legislation/schema/
> But I can't find any current pages with details.

The legislation.gov.uk API makes legislation available using the Crown Legislation Markup Language. For any page of HTML content on legislation.gov.uk, you can get the XML version of that legislation by appending /data.xml to the URI. For example, see:


The schema for the XML is available at:


(and the other schema modules referenced from that).

We use this XML to create the HTML views of legislation that you see on legislation.gov.uk as well as generated PDF views. We offer searches of various sorts over the content:


but it's oriented towards end-users rather than doing data-mining. However, we also generate (fairly rudimentary at the moment) RDF for the items of legislation, which are available through a SPARQL search at:


Our intention is to extend the RDF that's exposed in this way over the coming year.

I don't know how much of this is useful to you; I'm happy to answer any further questions. Obviously I can't speak for TNA, but my experience is that they are very open to collaboration to improve the service.


Jeni Tennison

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