Publications associated with Quantum Information

Mapping mutations in legislation: a bioinformatics approach

Parliamentary Affairs Oxford University Press 72 (2018) 21–41-

R Dixon, J Jones

Legislative amendment poses a conundrum: why do governments amend legislation that they only recently drafted? An effective method for quantifying amendments across a wide range of policy areas and legislatures would be valuable for answering such questions. Existing studies almost all rely on hand-counting and coding of amendments, methods which are laborious, necessarily subjective, and difficult to replicate. Using insights from bioinformatics (the study of genetic codes), we developed a streamlined method to quantify and visualise the amount of amendment. In an exploratory study of three parliamentary sessions since 2008, we found that UK legislation was considerably amended and lengthened during the parliamentary process. We discuss our results in the light of theories of information asymmetries between the government and the legislature.

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