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HIST 300 - Introduction to Historical Studies: U.K. Parliamentary Papers

What are the U.K. Parliamentary Papers?

The following information is copied directly from the official website of the United Kingdom Parliament (  

The term parliamentary papers can include:

  • The working papers of Parliament (such as Bills, Hansard and the daily business papers for each House).

  • Papers and reports produced by Parliament and its committees.

  • Papers presented to Parliament by outside bodies.

Papers produced by Parliament and its committees

Both Houses of Parliament publish documents that result from their work and that of their committees, such as:

  • Votes and Proceedings (Commons) and the Minute (Lords) - the formal, authoritative record of the decisions taken by each House.
  • Select Committee reports and evidence.
  • Registers of Members' financial interests.
  • Standing Orders - the rules for conducting business in both Houses.
  • Sessional Returns (Commons) and Business Statistics (Lords) - which present statistics for the work of each House at the end of a session (parliamentary year).

These papers are published as House of Commons or House of Lords Papers.

Papers presented to Parliament

Many different types of papers are presented to Parliament by bodies outside Parliament - some are then published under Parliament's authority.

Most are presented because the bodies are required to do so either by law or by a decision of Parliament. The following are some of the categories of papers that must be presented to Parliament:

  • 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 as 'House of Commons Papers' or 'House of Lords Papers'.

Other papers are presented because the government has decided - or previously committed - to provide the information to Parliament. These papers are usually called 'Command Papers'.

How to Use the U.K. Parliamentary Papers

USC Upstate library has access to the U.K. Parliamentary Papers online through ProQuest; search the A-Z Database list under "U" for U.K Parliamentary Papers.  A library guide explaining how to use the Parliamentary Papers was created by ProQuest, and can be accessed HERE.