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David Firth, software: tapiR

Authors: David Firth and Arthur Spirling


tapiR is a package for the R statistical computing envornoment. tapiR facilitates the capture and organisation of data on divisions of the UK House of Commons. The name tapiR stands for tools for accessing parliamentary information in R.

The package is fully documented internally, in the usual way for R packages. Additional and less formal documentation may be found in Firth and Spirling (2003), which should for now be cited as

The most recent version of the source package can be downloaded here: tapiR_0.7-5.tar.gz. The software is was catalogued, along with other materials of interest to political researchers, at Intute .

The tapiR project stopped collecting data in 2005. There's another online resource, The Public Whip, which has continued collecting the same kind of data (and rather more!) since then. The following newsletter article gives an overview for political scientists:


Associated with tapiR are three free-standing datasets, all in the "comma-separated values" (.csv) format used by common spreadsheet programs, statistical packages, etc:

  • (236K), MP voting data for the 1992-1997 parliament (amended 2004.01.05 to correct the party affiliation of Stuart Randall; amended 2004.04.23 to correct the party affiliation of Martyn Jones)
  • (228K), MP voting data for the 1997-2001 parliament
  • (260K), MP voting data for the period June 2001 to April 2005, including the Hansard textual tags for the topics of divisions

These can be used independently of R.

License to use

The tapiR software is made available free, under GPL version 2. It comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY of fitness for any purpose at all. Users of the software are kindly requested to cite (see above) the paper Firth and Spirling (2003) in any associated publication.

The voting data are compiled from Hansard, the official Parliamentary record. Whilst a great deal of effort has been made to ensure correctness, no guarantee is made, and no responsibility can be taken for any consequences arising from use of the data. Permission to use the data is conditional upon complete acceptance of this disclaimer.

The voting datasets are freely available for non-commercial purposes, including academic research. Users of the datasets are requested and required to cite (see above) the paper Firth and Spirling (2003) in any associated publication. Use for any commercial purpose is not permitted without the express permission of the authors. If there is doubt about the meaning of "commercial" it must be clarified with the authors.

Version history

The tapiR package was removed from CRAN in April 2007 because CRAN no longer allows packaged datasets to include certain characters (which are present in the names of some MPs). Please use the link provided above to download the latest version of the source package.

0.7-5: removed some datasets from the CRAN package in order to reduce size (2006.04.20)
0.7-3: a minor correction to two help files, so as to pass R CMD check with no warning (2006.03.15)
0.7-2: a minor correction to the Divs0105 dataset, which is now also much smaller due to use of compression (2005.05.18)
0.7-1: updated to the end of the second Blair government (May 2005). Added new dataset Topics0105, containing the Hansard textual tag for the topic of each division. (2005.05.17)
0.6-3: a minor change to the DESCRIPTION file for compatibility with the upcoming R-2.0.0. (2004.09.23)
0.6-1: updated to include votes up to 15 Sept 2004; divisions data now includes a textual tag for the topic of each debate. (2004.09.21)
0.5-2: party affiliation of Robert Key corrected (was Lab, should be Con) (2004.01.28)
0.5-1: updated to include votes up to 27 January 2004 (2004.01.28)
0.5: updated to include votes up to 14 January 2004 (2004.01.23)
0.4-1: minor administrative changes only (2003.10.14)
0.4: added new function find.divisions, which gets the Hansard URLs for all divisions on a specified set of dates (2003.09.12)
0.3-1: minor corrections to version 0.3 (2003.09.02)
0.3: added June and July 2003 divisions (2003.09.02)
0.2: first public release (2003.07.14)


The work needed to create tapiR and resulting datasets was supported partly by ESRC Professorial Fellowship RES-051-27-0055.

mountain tapir

Related links:
Photograph of a mountain tapir (tapirus pinchaque) by kind courtesy and permission of Sheryl Todd.