Parliament Question Time Corpus

A collections of questions and answers from parliamentary question periods in the British House of Commons from May 1979 to December 2016 (433,787 utterances).

Distributed together with: Asking Too Much? The Rhetorical Role of Questions in Political Discourse. Justine Zhang, Arthur Spirling, Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil. EMNLP 2017.

Dataset details

Speaker-level information

The speakers in the dataset are members of the Parliament. For each speaker, the dataset further includes the following metadata:

  • name: name of the speaker
  • member_start: start time of the speaker as the member of the Parliament
  • member_end: end time of the speaker as the member of the Parliament
  • changed_parties: whether the speaker has changed parties
  • first_party: first party the speaker is affiliated with
  • last_party: last party the speaker is affiliated with

Utterance-level information

Each question or answer is viewed as an utterance. For each utterance, we provide:

  • id: index of the utterance
  • speaker: the speaker who authored the utterance
  • conversation_id: id of the first utterance in the conversation this utterance belongs to
  • reply_to: id of the utterance to which this utterance replies to (None if the utterance is not a reply)
  • timestamp: time of the utterance
  • text: textual content of the utterance

Additional metadata include:

  • is_question: whether the utterance is a question
  • is_answer: whether the utterance is an answer to a question
  • pair_idx: index of the question-answer pair
  • is_incubent: whether the speaker is an Incumbent
  • is_minister: whether the speaker is a Minister
  • is_oppn: whether the speaker is from the opposition party
  • party: party affiliation of the speaker
  • parsed: parsed version of the utterance text, represented as a SpaCy Doc


To download directly with ConvoKit:

>>> from convokit import Corpus, download
>>> corpus = Corpus(filename=download("parliament-corpus"))

For some quick stats:

>>> corpus.print_summary_stats()
Number of Speakers: 1978
Number of Utterances: 433787
Number of Conversations: 216894

Additional note

See this example notebook. for an example of how to group questions in this dataset according to their rhetorical roles.