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International Government Information: British Parliamentary Papers

Proceedings: Debates Calendars

From the British Government

The United Kingdom Parliament has a convenient and up-to-date web site. It describes the workings of Parliament and provides links to texts of documents such as recent debates, reports, the Commons' Weekly Information Bulletin, and some current bills.

Full Text Resources

The British Parliament is the legislative body of Government in the United Kingdom. It has two chambers: the House of Lords, where members are appointed by past or current governments, and the House of Commons, a democratically elected chamber with elections to it held at least every 5 years. The Parliamentary Papers are the record of Parliamentary deliberations in the form of bills, reports, minutes, committee proceedings, and appropriations. 

The Library's holdings are listed in Roger. Many items are currently housed in off-site storage but are available to request via Roger. Other items may be available at other UC campus libraries and are available for request through Melvyl. This guide provides location information for most items available at UC San Diego or through online databases to which UCSD subscribes.

Many Parliamentary materials are now available online, either for free or in commercial databases. Check these first.

Proceedings: Debates

The British Library explains that "history of the reporting of debates in Parliament is long and complex. Parliament guards its privacy fiercely and for a long time it was forbidden to report what was said within the House. Nevertheless from the seventeenth century some debates appeared, compiled in secret and published at considerable risk. Often only the record of a single debate was issued but gradually more extensive reporting occurred."

For most purposes it is unnecessary to consult these early debates, as William Cobbett included most of them in his Parliamentary history of England…to the Year 1803In 1811 Cobbett was bought out by T.C. Hansard who reprinted Cobbett’s volumes and continued to report current debates. The debates became known as Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates and the term Hansard has been used for the debates to the present day, although the firm ceased to be connected with the project in 1892. 

Before 1909, the publications were often compiled from secondary sources and often compiled by individuals. Some publications covered both Houses; others covered only one House or the other. After 1909, the debates were published by the government, in separate volumes for the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and were give the term "Official Report."

Proceedings: Journals

The Journals are the official record of what was done in Parliament. They outline proceedings (but not the actual words spoken in session) including records of bills read and committed, motions submitted, resolutions and orders made, reports and papers received, lists of members appointed to committees, etc. Since the House of Lords do not refer bills to standing committee as the House of Commons does, the Lords Journals tend to give more information regarding amendments and results of debates.

Sessional Papers and Indexes to Sessional Papers

Sessional Papers are the papers presented to Parliament: bills, reports of committees, papers presented by Royal Commissions and government departments, and "accounts and papers," which include treaties, international agreements, and statistics.

Command papers are a distinct category of the Sessional Papers that include important documents on government policy ("white papers"), reports of studies or programs, or other reports presented by government departments to Parliament.

 

Sessional Papers & Committee Publications

Dates Covered Title Volumes Format Location
Index
1696-1834
Hansard's Catalogue and Breviate of Parliamentary Papers, 1696-1834 Index Print

Reference, Geisel Floor2 West J301 .K62 1953

GB Docs, Geisel Floor2 West X12 General Index  v.1 

1715-1800 House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth Century Intro & List Print

Reference, Geisel Floor2 West J301 .K625 1975

v. 1-145 Print

GB Docs, Geisel Floor2 West X11 C65

1715-1801 Reports from Committees of the House of Commons... v. 1 Online (UCSD) Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)
v. 4 Online (UCSD) Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)
pre-1801 various reports included in Journals of the House of Commons
Early 1800s various reports, including command papers, printed as appendices to Journals of the House of Commons
1801-1900 House of Commons Parliamentary Papers: the 19th Century [UCSD Only]
A detailed primary source for the United Kingdom, its colonies and the wider world. Searchable full text; displays page images with tables, maps, illustrations. Includes 4.2 million pages of documents such as bills, reports of committees, papers presented by Royal Commissions and government departments, treaties and international agreements, command papers, and statistics.
  Online (UCSD) House of Commons Parliamentary Papers: the 19th Century
1801-1900 Irish University Press Series of British Parliamentary Papers.
Reprints of the most significant 19th century Parliamentary Papers, arranged by subject/committee
v. 1-1000 Print

GB Docs, Geisel Floor2 West X12 General Index

Index
1801-1995
BOPCRIS: British Official Publications Collaborative Reader Information Service (Great Britain Govt)
The BOPCRIS partner collections have more or less complete holdings of Parliamentary papers and extensive collections of non-parliamentary/non-HMSO material. BOPCRIS will focus on around 23,000 key (from a total of approximately 250,000) documents, originally selected for inclusion in the internationally known hard-copy Ford Select Lists and Breviates. A limited number are available as full text. Currently indexes papers from 1801 to 1995.
  Online (Free) http://www.bopcris.ac.uk/bopcris/digbib/home
Index
1801-1899
Checklist of British Parliamentary Papers in the Irish University Press 1000-volume series Index Print

Reference, Geisel Floor2 West DA30 .I76 1972

Index
1801-1900
Subject Catalogue of the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 1801-1900 (Cockton) v. 1-5 Print

Offsite (SRLF) Request with Melvyl

Index
1812-1911
Guide to the Principal Parliamentary Papers Relating to the Dominions, 1812-1911. Index Print

Offsite (SRLF) Request with Melvyl

Index
1833-1899
Select List of British Parliamentary Papers, 1833-1899 Index Print

Reference, Geisel Floor2 West J301 .M3 1969 

Index
1900-1949
General Index to the Bills, Reports and Papers Printed by Order of the House of Commons... Index Print

Reference, Geisel Floor2 West J301 .K5 1960  

Index
1900-1968
Serial Publications in the British Parliamentary Papers, 1900-1968 Index Print

Reference, Geisel Floor2 West Z2009 .R63 

Index
1955-1964
Select List of British Parliamentary Papers, 1955-1964 Index Print

Reference, Geisel Floor2 West J301 .M32 

Index
1959-1969
General Alphabetical Index to the Bills, Reports and Papers Printed by Order of the House of Commons... Index Print  
1975-2003 House of Commons Parliamentary Papers. H.C. H.C. (varies) Microfiche Offsite (SRLF) Micro XX 1423 X150
1986-2003 Great Britain House of Lords Sessional Papers. H.L. H.L. (varies) Microfiche Offsite (SRLF) Micro XX 1423 X151
1990s- present (varies) Select Committee Publications and Reports (both Houses)   Online (Free) www.parliament.uk

Command Papers

Dates Covered Title Volumes Format Location
1801-1900 House of Commons Parliamentary Papers: the 19th Century [UCSD Only]
A detailed primary source for the United Kingdom, its colonies and the wider world. Searchable full text; displays page images with tables, maps, illustrations. Includes 4.2 million pages of documents such as bills, reports of committees, papers presented by Royal Commissions and government departments, treaties and international agreements, command papers, and statistics.
  Online (UCSD) House of Commons Parliamentary Papers: the 19th Century
Index
1833-1962
A numerical finding list of British command papers published 1833-1961/62 (Di Roma and Rosenthal) Index Print

Reference, Geisel Floor2 West Z2009 .D5 1967

1870-1899 Command Papers
C. (varies) Print Call number depends on subject of papers. Check Roger by title or C. number.
1900-1918 Cd. (varies) Print Call number depends on subject of papers. Check Roger by title or Cd. number.
1919-1956 Cmd. (varies) Print Call number depends on subject of papers. Check Roger by title or Cmd. number.
1956-1986 Cmnd. (varies) Print Call number depends on subject of papers. Check Roger by title or Cmnd. number.
1982-1985 Cmnd. 7461-9927 Microfiche Offsite (SRLF) XX 1423 X114 
1986-2003 Cm. 1-6062 Microfiche

Offsite (SRLF) XX 1423 X114

1986- Cm. (varies) Print Call number depends on subject of papers. Check Roger by title or Cm. number.
1994-2005 Online (Free) http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/
2005-present Online (Free) http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/
 

Bills & Acts

Bills are pieces of proposed legislation. Bills may also be located within the Sessional Papers and typically fall first in the arrangement of the papers of each session. Acts are bills that have passed through Parliament, received Royal Assent, and become law.