British Parliamentary publications are valuable primary sources for research into British and dominion history, including Australia.

The Library has significant holdings of published British sources. These include:

  • Parliamentary Papers and Debates, including online access (for National Library card holders) to eighteenth and nineteenth century parliamentary papers
  • Confidential Prints of the Foreign Office for the years 1800 to 1915, believed to be the only such set outside the United Kingdom
  • Confidential Prints of the Colonial Office on microfilm
  • Works of the Foreign Office, the Cabinet Office and the Imperial Defence Committees
  • Legislation, including comprehensive holding of early local and private acts
  • Large holdings of background material, including records of major political parties and collections of pamphlets

The History of the National Library collections until 1980 (extract from Burmester) gives more background on the collection.

Detailed information about what is contained in British Parliamentary papers is found in A guide to parliamentary papers : what they are, how to find them, how to use them by P. Ford and G. Ford (1972). Parliamentary papers fall into two groups:

Papers relating to Parliamentary Business

  • Procedure Papers, including Votes and Proceedings and Notices of Motions
  • The Journals, the official record of the proceeding of the House 
  • The Debates (Hansard): official record of things said in Parliament
  • Public Bill Committee Debates: House of Commons Public Bill Committees (known as Standing Committees before 2006), whose chief function is to consider bills which are under consideration by the House, have their own Hansards.

Papers Giving Parliament Information

  • House of Commons Papers, including Bills, Reports of Committees, Returns and Act Papers
  • Papers arising outside the House, including Reports of Royal Commissions and  Departmental papers
  • Command and Non-Parliamentary papers
  • Papers of nationalised industries and Government institutions
  • House of Lords Papers. House of Lords papers generally take the same form as those of the Commons: Procedure papers, Journals, debates House papers and Command papers. House of Lords papers mostly concern bills before the House. The more significant ones tend to be republished as House of Commons papers.

Comprehensive information about the role of Parliament, daily business, the passage of Bills and other topics are found at the UK Parliament website under How Parliament Works.