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Official Publications: How to find official publications: UK Parliament

What are official publications? Where can you find official publications?

UK Parliament publications

Publications from the UK parliamentary include Bills, House of Commons and House of Lords Papers, Command Papers and Hansard.

Together, Public Bills, Command Papers and HC and HL Papers are known as “Sessional Papers” – they relate the work of both Houses in each parliamentary session. Public Bills as well as HC and HL Papers are categorised according to the House to which they relate (Commons or Lords).

Key categories of UK Parliament publications

A bill is a draft form of an Act. A bill must pass through various parliamentary stages before it is passed, gains Royal Assent, and becomes an act. If a bill falls at any stage it does not become an act.

References to bills

Child Poverty HC Bill (2009-10) [10]

Child Poverty HC Bill (2009-10) [10]
Title of bill House Session Bill number

References to parliamentary materials can vary. For guidance on how to reference materials in your own work refer to a referencing guide:

Command Papers are presented to Parliament, nominally 'by command' of the monarch (in practice often by a Government Minister). They encompass a wide range of publications including policy documents, statistical information, treaties to which the UK is a signatory, and departmental and agency annual reports. They include 'white' and 'green' papers (relating to government policy and proposed legislation) and some reports of the English and Scottish Law Commissions.

References to Command Papers

Home Office, The Definition of Terrorism (Cm 7052, 2007)

Home Office, The Definition of Terrorism (Cm 7052, 2007)
Author (Department, etc) Title Series and number Year

The abbreviation of 'command' is important in identifying the series of papers:

Abbreviation Paper numbers Period
Command Paper series abbreviations
- [1] - [4222] 1st series 1833 - 1869
C [C 1] - [C 9550] 2nd series 1870 -1899
Cd [Cd 1] - [Cd 9239] 3rd series 1900 -1918
Cmd [Cmd 1] - Cmd 9889 4th series 1919 -1956
Cmnd Cmnd 1 - Cmnd 9927 5th series 1956 -1986
Cm Cm 1 -  Cm ---- 6th series 1986 - 2018
CP CP 1 - 7th series 2019 -

References to parliamentary materials can vary. For guidance on referencing materials in your own work, refer to a referencing guide:

House of Commons Papers (HC Papers) and House of Lords Papers (HL Papers) include reports from Select Committees and other publications resulting from the work of Parliament, reports of public inquiries and accounts and reports from certain bodies.

References to House of Commons Papers

HC Papers

Public Administration Committee, Ethics and Standards: Further Report, (HC 2008-09, 43)

Public Administration Committee, Ethics and Standards: Further Report, (HC 2008-09, 43)
Author (e.g. committee) Title House Session Paper

HL Papers

Constitution Committee, Analysis of the Government's response to Surveillance: Citizens and the State (HL 2008-09, 114)

Constitution Committee, Analysis of the Government's response to Surveillance: Citizens and the State (HL 2008-09, 114)
Author (e.g. committee) Title House Session Paper

References to parliamentary materials can vary. For guidance on how to cite materials in your own work refer to a referencing guide:

Hansard contains reports of debates and other parliamentary business. It is comprised of: House of Commons Debates, House of Lords Debates, and Public Bill Committee Debates ( formerly published as Standing Committee Debates).

References to Hansard

HC / HL Debates

Child Poverty Bill, Second Reading, HC Deb 20 July 2009, vol 496, cols 603-679

Child Poverty Bill, Second Reading, HC Deb 20 July 2009, cols 603-679
(name of debate) Series of debates Date Column number(s)

Public Bill Committee Debates*

Child Poverty Bill Deb 22 October 2009, cols 77-98

Child Poverty Bill Deb 22 October 2009, cols 77-98
Bill title Date Column number(s)

or

PBC (Bill 112) 22 October 2009, cols 77-98

PBC (Bill 112) 22 October 2009, cols 77-98
Series Bill number Date Column number

*Standing Committee Debates may be cited as:

SC Deb (A) 30 Jan 2003, col 217

or 

Stg Co Deb (2002-2003) Co A Local Government Bill col 217


References to parliamentary materials can vary. For guidance on citing materials in your own work refer to a referencing guide:

Up to session 1978-1979, Sessional Papers are arranged by broad subject and bound in separate volumes. References (especially in sessional indexes) may be to the volume and page. You will need to find out this reference in order to locate a paper within these volumes.

E.g. The Antarctic Treaty. Recommendations of the seventh consultative meeting held at Wellington, 30 October to 10 November 1972 (Cmnd 5502, 1973), may be cited in a format such as:

Sessional Papers, 1973-74, III, 99

Sessional Papers, 1973-74, III, 99
Sessional Papers Session Volume Page number

References to parliamentary materials can vary. For guidance on how to cite materials in your own work refer to a referencing guide:

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UK Parliament publications online

UK Parliament publications in the Library

Government Publications Collection (Level 1)

This collection contains print copies of:

  • House of Commons Sessional Papers (1731 - 2007/08: Until 1978/79 these are arranged by broad subject and bound in separate volumes (as organised by the Stationery Office). From 1979/80 onwards, the three categories are bound in their separate numerical sequences e.g. Command Papers, HC Papers, Public Bills.  The last volume of a session contains the index to that session.
  • Hansard: HC Debates (1803-2010/12), Standing/Public Bill Committee Debates (1945-2008), HL Debates (1944/45- 2010/12).

How to find a report of a debate in Hansard

Public Information Online

By Reference:

Follow the link to ‘UK Parliament’ then, under ‘Categories’, to ‘HOL / HOC Daily Hansards’ or ‘Public Bill and General Committee Debates’. Then filter by session and browse by volume (paper) / committee and date. (Alternatively, use options in the ‘Advanced Search’ screen.)

By Subject/Speaker:

Follow the link to the ‘Advanced Search’ screen. Under ‘Categories’ select the relevant source (e.g. ‘HOC Daily Hansards’). Enter terms in the ‘Keywords in document text’ search field.


Hansard Online (UK Parliament website)

By Reference: In 'Find by Volume and Column Number' select series (e.g. Commons / Lords), enter volume and column number, select 'Find'; or use the options under 'Browse Sittings'.

By Subject: Enter your search term(s) in the 'Search Hansard...' box, select 'Search'; or use the options under 'Find Debates' .

By Speaker: Follow the relevant ‘Find MPs’ or ‘Find Peers’ link, and then search for an MP/Peer or browse by Member and filter by search term and/or date.

By Reference

Use the Hansard reference information to locate the debate by the series (e.g. House of Commons) volume and column number.

By Subject (e.g. Bill) or Speaker

Current Law Statutes: Annotations at the beginning of an act contains references to debates relating to the Bill.

‘Explanatory Notes’ to recent UK Acts contain references to debates on the related Bill (under ‘Parliamentary History’ / ‘Hansard References’).

Use the indexes in Hansard to look up the subject or speaker. The indexes give references to the column number (and volume).

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How to track a bill's progress through the UK Parliament

Public Information Online

The ‘Bill Tracker’ allows you to follow the progress of a Bill as it goes through the UK or Scottish Parliament.

  • Bills can be filtered by Parliament, session and are then listed alphabetically.
  • Follow the link the Bill you wish to track.
  • Documents associated with the passage of the Bill are listed in reverse chronological order (with other sort and search options available).
UK Parliament: Bills before Parliament

This page lists bills currently before Parliament with links to information about the current state of passage including links to associated documents.

For earlier session's bills, follow the link to 'Bills in previous session'.

Current Law Statutes (RD344, law reference section, level 5) – The annotations at the beginning of an act contains references to debates relating to the Bill listed by stage/reading.

‘Explanatory Notes’ to Acts of the Scottish Parliament and recent UK Acts indicate the progress of the related Bill  (under ‘Parliamentary History’ / ‘Hansard References’).

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UK Parliament website

Legislation

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