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British Parliamentary Papers: Getting Started

How to find British Parliamentary Sessional Papers, Debates and other documents.

HCPP Database

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers

This database includes full text of the House of Commons Sessional Papers* for the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries.
For all other categories and dates see the relevant pages.

*The Sessional Papers include reports of Government Departments to Parliament, also known as Command Papers.

Related Websites

The official home for revised and enacted UK government legislation.

Law Library Guides:

U.K. Parliament Guides

Digitized Historical Material
Excellent guide to free and subscription materials available online.

What are Parliamentary Papers?

Papers produced by Parliament and its committees, such as:

  • Bills and Acts of Parliament (in Law School)
  • Journals, Votes and Proceedings, Debates - the record of what is said and done in Parliament
  • Select Committee reports and evidence - included in Sessional Papers

Papers presented to Parliament*, such as:

  • Annual reports of government departments or other bodies and agencies.
  • Periodic reports of certain activities or programmes (eg, Reports of Her Majesty's Inspector of Prisons).
  • Reports by the National Audit Office.
  • Estimates, accounts and other government financial papers such as the Budget.
  • Reports of inquiries into particular events (eg, the Hutton Inquiry, the Home Office report on the 7/7 London bombings).

*Many, but not all, of these papers are published in the House of Commons Sessional Papers and are known as Command Papers

For a full description of what Parliamentary Papers are, see the About Parliament section of the UK Parliament website. This also gives background information on MPs and Lords, Parliament's role,  committees, etc.

Note: 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.

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Librarian for Military History, History of Science and Technology, Britain, Ireland and Commonwealth

Perkins and Lilly Libraries