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British government publications

Sessional Papers (Parliamentary Papers)

Sessional papers are working documents of government, also known as parliamentary papers or blue books.

"The parliamentary papers encompass all areas of social, political, economic and foreign policy, showing how issues were explored and legislation was formed." Before 1921 almost all important government documents were presented to Parliament for their consideration. Beginning in 1921, only those documents considered likely to be the subject of early legislation have been presented. These are papers created by the Parliament and also those presented to it. They include:

  • Bills: public bills only
  • House Papers: Committee reports and Evidence, Minutes of Proceedings of Standing Committees, Accounts, Annual reports, House Returns
  • Command papers (Papers presented to Parliament by Command):

government papers from ministers, include State Papers, Policy Papers, Annual Reports, Reports of Royal Commissions, Statistical Reports and etc.

During the eighteenth century, Command Papers were printed as appendices to the House of Commons Journal. Numbering of Command papers:

  • First series [1]-[4222] 1833-69
  • Second series [C.1]-[C.9550] 1870-99
  • Third series [Cd.1]-[Cd.9239] 1900-18
  • Fourth series [Cmd.1]-[Cmd.9889] 1919-56
  • Fifth series [Cmnd.1]- 1956-86
  • Sixth series [Cm.1]- 1986+

There are financial accounts of government, statistics, census, treaties, and papers detailing colonial, military, and foreign affairs. "Here in breadth and depth are documentary sources for the study of the political, social, and economic life of Great Britain and Ireland and much of the rest of the world."

British Sessional Papers in the Government Publications Section: A Guide

U.K. Parliamentary Papers

House of Commons

House of Lords

The House of Lords Sessional Papers contains Bills and House Papers. Until 1900 the Command Papers were published in Sessional Papers of both Houses. After 1900, the Command Papers were included in the House of Commons Sessional Papers only.