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British House of Commons Papers at Memorial Library

Table of Contents

How the Papers Are Organized

Papers vs. Command papers (& Why You Should Care)

The House of Commons produces two kind of Papers: House of Commons Papers and Command Papers. Command Papers are numbered in a slightly different way from other House of Commons Papers. Without knowing the different kinds of papers and their different numbering systems, it may be hard to locate the document you're looking for.

House of Commons Papers: Produced by House of Commons as reports of its own select committees, reports specifically requested, or reports required by statutes. Includes bills.

Command Papers: Reports presented to Parliament by Royal Warrant/command of sovereign (in actuality, by command of a Secretary of State or other minister). Not requested or required by Parliament. Command papers are included in the sessional papers, but have slightly different numbering and notation systems.

Numbering/notation for Command papers
Years Numbering/notation Notes
1833-1868/69 [1] to [4222] Number not printed on the paper.
1870-1899 [C.1] to [C.9550] From 1870 on, number printed on paper.
1900-1918 [Cd.1] to [Cd.9239]
1919-1955/56 [Cmd.1] to Cmd.9889
1956/57-Nov. 7, 1986 Cmnd.1-9927
Nov. 2, 1986-present Cm 1-

Order of Commons Sessional Papers

Each session of Parliament usually lasts one year. A single session of Parliament may have up to 50 volumes of papers; these volumes make up a sessional set. The order of papers within a sessional set is as follows:

Page Numbering

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18th Century House of Commons Papers

Parliamentary papers were not typically printed before 1801. Those that were printed were included in the House of Commons Journals, either in the body of the journal or in an appendix. There are several places at Memorial Library to search for 18th-century papers, listed below.

Electronic 18th-century papers

Print & microform 18th-century papers

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Indexes for 18th-Century Commons Papers

Electronic index to 18th-century papers

Print indexes to 18th-century papers

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19th-Century Commons Papers

Electronic 19th-century papers

Print & microform 19th-century papers
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Indexes for 19th-Century Commons Papers

The Parliamentary papers are indexed by a number of different publications. The indexes vary in arrangement and what they cover (which dates, which kinds of papers). The indexes fall into several general categories, listed below. Within each category, the indexes are listed chronologically, by the year for which the index first provides coverage.

Electronic indexes for 19th-century papers

Commercial print indexes for 19th-century papers

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Print indexes, published by HMSO (British government printer), to 19th-century papers

HMSO indexes, to 19th-century papers, that cover 10 or more years
These are all located in the Government Documents Collection, Stack Level 2M South, aisle 0.

HMSO decennial indexes to 19th-century papers

HMSO sessional indexes to 19th-century papers For each session of Parliament, H.M.S.O. has published a volume indexing the papers of that individual session.

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Specialized index to 19th century papers(for papers containing certain kinds of information)

Index to Diplomatic Blue Books

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20th- and 21st-Century Commons Papers

Print 20th and 21st papers (most comprehensive)

Electronic resources: Papers from the 1990s and later

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Papers relating to Ireland, 1801-1922

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Indexes to 20th- and 21st-Century Commons Papers

Electronic indexes to 20th- and 21st-century papers

Print indexes

Commercial print indexes to 20th and 21st century papers

Indexes published by HMSO (British government printer)

HMSO index, covering 10 or more years, to 20th- and 21st-century papers

HMSO decennial indexes to 20th- and 21st-century papers

HMSO sessional indexes to 20th- and 21st-century papers For each session of Parliament, H.M.S.O. has published a volume indexing the papers of that individual session.

Other HMSO index to 20th- and 21st-century papers

Specialized indexes (for papers containing certain kinds of information) to 20th- and 21st-century papers

Indexes, covering 20th- and 21st-century papers, to Diplomatic Blue Books

Index to serial publications, 1900-1968

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Citing the House of Commons Papers

There is no single standard method of citing the Parliamentary Papers; however, the guide Citing British Parliamentary Publications at http://www.library.wisc.edu/guides/govdocs/british/citing.htm lists some resources with guidelines on citing the Papers.

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British Parliamentary/Sessional Papers at Memorial Library | British Parliamentary Publications at Memorial Library |
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Page created 3/00; last updated 4/2/07.

Created and maintained by:

Beth Harper
Government Documents Reference Librarian
276 Memorial Library
728 State St.
Madison, WI 53706
(608)262-9852