This guide deals only with the publications and Internet sites for the House of Commons and House of Lords. For information on the Parliaments and Assemblies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland or other regional assemblies, see the Devolved Parliaments and Assemblies website.

The call numbers listed in this Guide are for items held by the National Library of Australia. Call numbers with the prefix RF indicate that the item is in the Reference Collection in the Main Reading Room. The RX, RM, mp and mfm prefixes indicate that the item is held in the Newspapers and Microforms Reading Room. Other titles must be requested through the Catalogue - enquire at the Information Desk or telephone (02) 6262 1266.

Online resources

Debates

What are debates?

British Parliamentary debates are of interest to those studying public issues in Great Britain, particularly social and political history, law, etc.. Debates are often concerned with bills which are draft versions of a proposed act of Parliament. Debates also contain parliamentary questions and debates on issues of national importance.

Parliamentary debates are also known as Hansard. Hansard is the official report of the proceedings of the British Parliament and record what is said in the House. The name Hansard was officially adopted in 1943 after Luke Hansard (1752-1828) who was the printer of the House of Commons Journal from 1774.

House of Commons Standing Committees, whose chief function is to consider bills which are under consideration by the House, have their own Hansards.

What the Library holds

House of Commons

Publication Dates held Call number
A Bibliography of Parliamentary debates of Great Britain. 1066-1803 RF 328.42 GREThis is a list of the many reports which have been published. National Library holdings have been annotated with the Library's call number.
Cobbett's parliamentary history of England: from the Norman conquest in 1066, to the year 1803. Vol.1-v.12 (1066/1625 - 1741/1743). CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary history of England Vol.13-v.36 (1743/1747 - 1801/1803) CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates during the ...session of the ...Parliament Vol. 1 (1803-1804) S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates from the year 1803 to the present time Vol. 2-v.41 (1804-1820) CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates New series vol.1-v.20 (1820-1829) CAC S 328.42 GRE
Hansard's parliamentary debates New series vol.21-v.25; 3rd series vol.1-v.356 (1829-1891) CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates, authorised edition 4th series vol. 1-v.199 (1892-1908) CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates (official report) 5th series vol. 1-v.7 (1909) CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates (official report). House of Commons 5th series vol.8-v.318 (1909-1936) CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates. House of Commons official report 5th series vol.319-v.393 (1937-1943) CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates (Hansard). House of Commons official report 5th series vol.394-v.1000; 6th series vol.1- (1943-) CAC Sq 328.42 GRE
Debates - Internet November 1988- Select: Daily Debates or Bound Volume Debates.
The Controller's Library collection of Her Majesty's Stationery Office publications, 1922-1972- Microfilm 1922-1940 Mfm 1435 and finding list at RM mfm 1435This collection includes Bills, Journals, Debates and Papers
Parliamentary debates. Official report. Standing committees... 1935/1936-1938/1939; 1944/45 CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates (Hansard). House of Commons official report. Standing committees... 1945/1946-1957/1958 CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates. House of Commons official report. Standing committees... 1959/1960- CAC Sq 328.42 GRE
Other Standing Committee Debates - Internet 1997/1998- Summaries of proceedings and decisions are published separately as Minutes of proceedings in the House of Commons papers.
Standing Committee Debates on Bills - Internet 1997/1998- House of Commons Standing Committee debates listed by the title of the Bill currently being considered. See above column for further information.

House of Lords

Publication Dates held Call number
Debates 1066-1909 See above under House of Commons. Prior to 1909, House of Commons and House of Lords Debates were published together.
Parliamentary debates (official report) 5th series vol. 1 (1909) CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates (official report). House of Lords 5th series vol. 2-v.103 (1909-1936) CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates. House of Lords official report 5th series vol.104-v.129 (1937-1943) CAC S 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary debates (Hansard). House of Lords official report 5th series vol.130- (1943)- CAC Sq 328.42 GRE
Debates - Internet November 1994- Select: Daily Debates or Bound Volume Debates.

Indexes to debates

The indexes to debates are published as part of the bound volumes of Debates. See entries above for House of Commons and House of Lords.

Publication Dates held
Indexes to the Daily Parts of the House of Commons Parliamentary debates - Internet Current sessions.
Volume indexes to the House of Commons Parliamentaray debates - Internet 17 November 1999-
Weekly indexes to the House of Lords Parliamentary debates - Internet Current sessions
Volume indexes to the House of Lords Parliamentary debates - Internet 6 December 2000-

Retrieving volumes of debates

The indexes to the debates enable searches by subject, speaker, bill etc. Note the volume (if applicable) and page number.

If you have the specific date, i.e. the day, month and year, this information is sufficient to retrieve the correct volume.

To request Debates, locate the catalogue record for the appropriate time period and House. Select the Get this button and the call slip will display. Type in the details of volume and/or date required and submit your request.

Journals

The Journals for each House are compiled daily from the Votes and Proceedings for the House of Commons and the Minutes of Proceedings for the House of Lords. They form the permanent record of the business dealt with in each session of Parliament. The Journals record only what was done, not what was said (which is the role of the Debates).

Each new sessional volume is published about two years after the end of the session.

Publication Dates held Call Number

Journals of the House of Commons

Compiled from and largely supersede the daily Votes and Proceedings

1547-1800

1801-

Eight general indexes covering 1547-1879 and decennial indexes from then on.

RSERef 328.42 GRE

CAC Sef 328.42 GRE

Journals of the House of Lords

Compiled from and largely supersede the daily Minutes of Proceedings

1509-1800

1801-

General indexes from 1510-1853 and decennial indexes from then on.

RSERef 328.42 GRE

CAC Sef 328.42 GRE

Votes and proceedings of the House of Commons

The daily records of the business of the House of Commons contain all the business that was transacted on the previous day. It includes Notices of motions and orders of the day.

Information contained in them can be found summarised in the sessional volumes of the Journals of the House of Commons.

Title Dates held Call Number
Votes and proceedings of the House of Commons... 1861-1891 CAC Sq 328.42 GRE
Notices of motions and orders of the day... 1861-1891 CAC Sq 328.42 GRE
Votes and proceedings -Internet 1998-  

Summary agendas and orders of business of the House of Commons

These list the business of the House of Commons for each day's sitting and are available on the Internet for the period October 1996 to the present.

Minutes of proceedings and order papers of the House of Lords

The daily records of the business of the House of Lords contain all the business that was transacted on the previous day.

Information contained in them can be found in the sessional volumes of the Journals of the House of Lords.

The House of Lords Business website contains information on minutes of proceedings and future business. The Minutes and Order Papers Archive is also available online.

Bills

The passage of a bill through Parliament

A bill is a proposal for a new law which is debated by Parliament. There are separate sets of bills for both the Houses of Commons and Lords. Once passed by both Houses, the bill is given Royal Assent and becomes an Act.

The progress of a bill through Parliament follows the stages outlined below. For further information see Bills and Legislation.

Stage Description
First reading (1R) Records the title of the bill which is read by the Clerk of the House. It is ordered to be printed and a date set for the second reading stage.
Second reading (2R) One of the items which is most frequently requested from debates is the second reading of a bill. This is the stage when the principle of a bill is discussed.The ensuing debate is reported in Hansard with particulars of any division which may arise. In some cases the second reading may be ordered for a certain date, and then rescheduled several times before it is finally read and debated.
Committee stage. When a bill has passed its second reading it is sent to be considered by a Standing Committee. A committee has no power to reject a bill but may amend particular clauses.
Report stage If a bill is not amended in committee it passes to third reading stage. If there are amendments the House considers it in its amended form. It may be passed back to the Standing Committee.
Third reading Little or no debate takes place at this stage. If passed, the bill proceeds to the House of Lords.
Lords stage If no amendments are made in the House of Lords, the bill only needs Royal Assent to become an Act. If there are amendments, the bill is returned to the House of Commons.
Consideration of Lords amendments These are examined one by one in the Commons, and if agreed to the House of Lords is notified and the bill is ready to receive Royal assent and pass into an act. If not, exchanges may be prolonged before agreement is reached.

Library holdings of bills

See also the section on Parliamentary papers below.

House of Commons Bills

Publications Dates held Call Number
House of Commons sessional papers of the eighteenth century 1715-1800 1715-1800 CAC Sq 328.42 GRE Individual papers in this series may be located through the chronological and alphabetical indexes in volumes 1 and 2.
Contains Bills ordered to be printed 1715-1800.
Parliamentary Papers (House of Commons and Command) 1797-1976/77 CAC Sq 328.42 GRE Bills are bound in the first several volumes of each session.
Bills 1978- CAC Sq 328.42 GRE Filed separately by session then by bill number
Bills before Parliament - Internet Current Includes Public, Private, Private Members', Draft and Hybrid Bills
Bills - Internet Current A complete list of public bills introduced in Parliament in the current session, together with information about their progress through Parliament, can be found in the Weekly Information Bulletin
Acts - Internet 1988- The Library also holds Acts in hard copy. See catalogue records under Great Britain. Laws, etc.

House of Lords Bills

Publication Dates held Call Number
House of Lords sessional papers 1714-1805 CAC Sq 328.42 GRE Bills are bound in the first several volumes of each session
House of Lords sessional papers - Microfilm 1806-1859 mfm 901
Sessional papers of the House of Lords 1806/1807-1984/1985 imperfect CAC Sq 328.42 GRE Bills are bound in the first several volumes of each session
Bills 1985/86-imperfect CAC Sq 328.42 GRE
Bills before Parliament - Internet Current Includes Public, Private, Private Members', Draft and Hybrid Bills
Bills - Internet Current A complete list of public bills introduced in Parliament in the current session, together with information about their progress through Parliament, can be found in the Weekly Information Bulletin
Acts- Internet 1988- The Library also holds Acts in hard copy. See catalogue records under Great Britain. Laws, etc.

Indexes to bills

Publication Dates held Call Number
BOPCRIS-British official publications collaborative reader information service- Internet 1688-1995  
General index to the sessional papers... 1714-1805 RFq 328.42 G329
General index to the sessional papers...Sessional Indexes from thereon. 1801-1885 RM mfm 901
Index to the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers in eResources 1801 - 2004  
     

Indexes to debates on bills

The indexes to debates on bills are published as part of the volumes of Debates above.

Retrieving bills

To request a bill, locate the catalogue record for the appropriate time period. Select the Request this button. The call slip will display. Type in the details of the bill number and parliamentary session date and submit your request.

Parliamentary papers

What are parliamentary papers?

The British parliamentary paper set is a major research collection for the history and development of Great Britain and its colonies, including Australia. It contains reports and other documents presented to Parliament and printed over the centuries. Contemporary papers contain much information on British government policy and foreign relations. Documents include bills, treaties, committee reports, royal commissions and annual reports from government bodies.

House of Lords papers mostly concern bills before that House. The more significant ones tend to be republished as House of Commons papers.

House of Commons papers, House of Lords papers, and Command papers

Whenever the Houses of Commons or Lords requires the submission of a report and orders it to be printed, the resulting document is issued in a numbered series of House of Commons papers or House of Lords papers. They are sometimes prefixed by the initials HC or HL but usually only the paper number is quoted. A new numbering is begun for each parliamentary session. For further information see UK Parliament Factsheet P12, House of Commons papers.

Command papers are so called because they are presented "by command of Her/His Majesty." Command paper numbering is continuous over several years with prefixes C, Cl, Cd, Cmd, Cmnd or Cm allocated to different time periods. They are bound in with the House of Commons papers up to session 1976-1977. To retrieve a command paper before that date, the session and volume number need to be quoted. For further information see UK Parliament Factsheet P13, Command papers.

What does the National Library hold?

House of Commons

Publications Dates held Call Number
House of Commons sessional papers of the eighteenth century 1715-1800 1715-1800 CAC Sq 328.42 GRE Individual papers in this series may be located through the chronological and alphabetical indexes in volumes 1 and 2.*Many papers for this period are also included in the Journals of the House of Commons and Journals of the House of Lords. See section Journals above.
Reports from Committees of the House of Commons 1715-1802 CAC Sef 328.42 GRE
Reports from Committees of the House of Commons which have been printed by order of the House and are NOT inserted in the journals -Microfilm. (Goldsmith's-Kress library of economic literature; no. 18600) 1803-1806 mfm 1314
House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP Online) 1801-1900 Provides full text online access to nineteenth century parliamentary papers.
Parliamentary Papers (House of Commons and Command) 1797-1976/1977Almost complete holdings. CAC Sq 328.42 GRE
Parliamentary papers (House of Commons and Command-Microprint 1731/1800-1810 mp 6
House of Commons papers 1977/1978- CAC Sq 328.42 GRE
Command papers 1978- CAC Sq 328.42 GRE
Command papers - Internet 1994-2005, selection only.
May 2005-, complete records
 

House of Lords

Publications Dates held Call Number
House of Lords sessional papers 1714-1805 CAC Sq 328.42 GRE
House of Lords sessional papers - Microfilm 1806-1859 mfm 901
Sessional papers of the House of Lords 1806/1807-1984/1985. Holdings imperfect CAC Sq 328.42 GRE
Papers 1985/1986- CAC Sq 328.42 GRE

Identification of parliamentary papers

Parliamentary papers may be identified and located through the following indexes. See also section Indexes to Bills above.

Publication Dates held Call Number
BOPCRIS-British official publications collaborative reader information service - Internet 1688-1995  
Hansard's catalogue and breviate of Parliamentary papers 1696 to 1834 1696-1834

RF 328.4204 G786
This catalogue lists and summarizes the content of a select list of House of Commons papers and journals, including some House of Lords papers which have been republished as Commons papers. Other dates available at RF 328.4204

General index to the accounts and papers, reports of commissioners, estimates, &c.&c... 1801-1852 CAC Sq328.42 GRE
Subject catalogue of the House of Commons Parliamentary papers, 1801-1900 1801-1900 RFq 328.42 GRE
Index to the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers in eResources 1801 - 2004 House of Commons Parliamentary Papers
General alphabetical index to the bills, reports, estimates and papers... 1852-1899 328.42 GRE
General index to the bills, reports and papers printed... 1900 to 1948-49 1900-1948/1949 RF 328.42 G786
General alphabetical index to the bills, reports and papers printed...1969-70 to 1978-79. 1969/1970-1978/1979 Sq 328.42 GRE
UK Official Documents 1951-Current (Selected documents)  Internet access

How to identify a report of a committee by the name of its chairman

Publication Dates held Call Number
British government publications : an index to chairmen of committees and commissions of inquiry v. 1. 1800-1899
v. 2. 1900-1940
v. 3. 1941-1978
v. 4. 1979-1982
RF 328.42 R513
House of Commons Parliamentary Papers in eResources

1801 - 1996

Can search by chairman of committee

 

Retrieval Of parliamentary papers

To request parliamentary papers, locate the catalogue record for the appropriate time period. Select the Get this button. The call slip will display. Where appropriate, type in the details of volume and parliamentary session date then submit your request.

Command Papers

To request a Command Paper, locate the catalogue record for the appropriate time period. Select the Get this button. The call slip will display. Type in the details of the paper number and parliamentary session date. Submit your request.

If only the Command Paper number is known, the finding lists below need to be checked. These indexes will translate the Command Paper number into the volume number and parliamentary session.

Publication Dates held Call Number
House of Commons Parliamentary Papers- eResources 1688-1995  
Numerical finding list of British command papers published 1833-1961/62 1833-1962 RF 328.4201 D559
British command papers: a numerical finding list 1962/63-1976/77 1962-1977 YY 015.41 M119

House of Commons and House of Lords Papers

To request a House of Commons paper, locate the catalogue record for the appropriate time period. Select the Get this button. The call slip will display. Type in the details of the paper number and parliamentary session date. Submit your request.

Reference works

For detailed descriptions of British parliamentary publications, refer to these books in the Reference Collection in the Main Reading Room. The UK Parliament website contains much useful information on all aspects of the working and publications of the Parliament.