Government of the United Kingdom

 

 

Background Information

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library has an extensive collection of British government publications in a variety of formats. This guide provides an introduction to the process of locating British government publications in this Library. Topics covered include Parliamentary publications, using indexes, locating items in the Library, and finding British government information on the Internet.

 

Parliamentary Publications

Parliamentary papers contain public bills, reports of committees and commissions, accounts, and command papers. The legislative process usually involves both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. A bill must be passed by both houses before it becomes an official act of Parliament. Bills may be introduced in either house. For more information about the British Parliament, see About Parliament.

Sessional Papers:
Sessional papers are documents dealing with the daily operations of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. They include command papers, House of Commons papers and bills, and House of Lords papers and bills. Sessional papers are also referred to as Parliamentary papers.

Command Papers:
Command papers include information on government policies, the reports of Royal commissions, treaties, and annual reports. Command papers are presented to Parliament by government ministers.

House of Commons Papers and Bills:
House of Commons papers include committee reports and accounts of official government entities. House of Commons bills can be either public or private. Public bills undergo a process of discussion, amendment, and revision before they are passed and become acts of Parliament (i.e., statutes). Private bills are concerned with individuals or particular local areas of the UK and become local acts or personal acts if they are passed.

House of Lords Papers and Bills:
The subject matter of House of Lords papers and bills is similar to that of House of Commons documents, but the House of Lords never deals with taxation.

Parliamentary Debates (Hansard):
Parliamentary debates, also referred to as Hansards, are available in the Main Stacks. The debates are divided into six separate series containing many separate volumes. Indexes to the debates are shelved after the volumes for each session.

 

Legislation

Acts of Parliament:

  • Public General Acts are public bills passed in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

  • Local and Personal Acts begin as private bills and become acts when they have passed both houses.

  • General Synod Measures are passed by the General Synod of the Church of England.

Acts of Parliament held by the Library may be found by using its online catalogs. The Law Library has several finding aids and reference books in its collection that may assist in identifying legislation. Note that the Law Library uses the Library of Congress classification system; the prefixes KD through KDK in this classification scheme correspond to law of the United Kingdom and Ireland. The titles listed below, with call numbers, are a small sample of the resources available in the Law Library collection:

UIUC Law Stacks, KD310.H34x 1973 Halsbury's Laws of England. 4th ed. This is a useful legal encyclopedia for English law, with annual cumulative supplements.

UIUC Law Stacks, KD140.H34X Halsbury's Laws of England Annual Abridgment. Includes annual volumes for 1977 to the present.

UIUC Law Stacks, KD135.H31985 LIST Halsbury's Statutes of England and Wales. 4th ed. Includes a list of statutes. Halsbury's Statutes of England publishes, indexes, and annotates recent acts of Parliament.

UIUC Law Stacks, KD135.H31985 INDEX Halsbury's Statutes of England and Wales. 4th ed. Contains tables of statutes and a general index.

UIUC Law Stacks, KD142.6 .I8 Is it in force? A guide to the commencement of statutes passed since ... / prepared by Butterworths Editorial Staff. This guide allows you to check on the current status of acts of Parliament. Volumes have been issued for 2002 to date.

 

Using the Indexes

Depending on the type of information you are seeking, you may have to use an index. The United Kingdom's government publisher is Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO). HMSO publishes both Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary publications. HMSO also publishes the primary index to U.K. government publications, the HMSO Monthly Catalogue (also called the Stationery Office Monthly Catalogue), which is cumulated in the Annual Catalogue. A cumulative subject index to the Annual Catalogue is published every five years.

 

HMSO Annual Catalogue:

The HMSO Annual Catalogue, the official catalog of U.K. government publications, is located in the Reading Room (call number 015.42G79Co2). The Annual Catalogue cumulates the Monthly Catalogue, and the Library retains the Monthly Catalogues until it is superseded by the Annual Catalogue. The Annual Catalogue lists publications by type, with separate categories for Parliamentary publications, Public general acts, Local acts, Measures of the General Synod, and a classified section of nonparliamentary publications listed by government body.

 

Using the HMSO Annual Catalogue:

An alphabetical index in the back of each annual Catalogue provides access to citations by subject, author, chairman, and editor.

Subject Searching:

1. Use the Alphabetical Index of Subject Headings
You can use the subject heading index to find the appropriate term for your topic. Once you have found your subject and the relevant page numbers, turn to the citation.

Typical entries from the subject heading index look like these, which are taken from page 539 of the 2001 Annual Catalogue:

Changing driver beliefs, attitudes & behaviour: Scotland............................518
Channel Tunnel rail link: Evidence.......................................................84, 290
Channel Tunnel rail link: Reports.........................................................74, 397

Usually Parliamentary publications are listed twice and nonparliamentary publications are listed once.

2. Look at the citation for your subject to identify the relevant bibliographic information.

Bibliographic Information

In order to find an item, it is necessary to know the session year(s), series, and number. The parliamentary session year does not necessarily correspond to the calendar year, as it begins in November and runs to the following October. New sessions also begin after a general election, so there may be multiple sessions for one year. Series corresponds to the type of parliamentary paper, such as Command papers, House of Commons papers, and House of Commons bills. Each series is numbered consecutively throughout the session year.

Example---the series, number, and session year of the following citation are in bold:

p. 84 House of Commons papers (Cm.)

Channel Tunnel rail link: minutes of evidence, Monday, 9 April 2001: Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions; London and Continental Railways; Railtrack.--Committee of Public Accounts--Alan Williams (chairman).--p. 1-35.: 30 cm.-- 0 10 242301 6 --9.00[pounds]

3. Use bibliographic information from the citation to locate the item in the Library.

Since this citation was found in the 2001 Annual Catalogue, to find the document one would look for the microfiche copy of House of Commons paper 422-i in the 2000/2001 session set of microfiche housed in the Reading Room.

Parliamentary publications are available in either the Reading Room or the Main Stacks, depending on the period that you are studing.

 

Chronology of Indexes:

Here is a list of titles and call numbers of the general indexes that can be used to find British government publications. All of these are available in the Reading Room. When doing research, be aware that many indexes cover only a specific period.

1696  This is the Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. General index. Q.015.42IR4 v.1 (1696-1834). This catalog of parliamentary reports is arranged by subject.

1715  House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth Century. Q. 328.42 G79HEINDEX (1715-1800).  v.1 (1715-1760); v. 2 (1761-1800).

1801  Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. General index. Q.015.42IR4 v. 2, 3, 5 (1801-1852); v. 4 (1852-1869); v.6 (1870-19); v.7 (1880-1889); v.8 (1890-1899). Checklist of British parliamentary papers in the Irish University Press 1000-volume series, 1801-1899. Q.015.42IR42 1852 General alphabetical index to the bills, reports, estimates, accounts, and papers, printed by order of the House of Commons, and to the papers presented by command, 1852-1899. Q.328.42 GRBCOINDEX1852-99.

1900  General Index to the bills, reports, estimates, accounts, and papers printed by order of the House of Commons and to the reports and papers presented by command, 1900 to 1948/1949. 328.42 GRBCOINDEX1900-49 (1900-1949). 1920 HMSO Annual Catalogue. 015.42 G79CO (1920-1984).

1922  Cumulative index to the annual catalogues of Her Majesty's Stationery Office publications, 1922-1972 / compiled by Ruth Matteson Blackmore with an introduction by James Gordon Olle. 015.42 G79COINDEX1922-72 1950 House of Commons parliamentary papers. 328.42 GRCINDEX (1950-1964; 1973-1974). General alphabetical index to the bills, reports, and papers printed by order of the House of Commons, and to the reports and papers presented by command. 328.42 GRBCINDEX (1950 - 1958/59).

1985  HMSO annual catalogue. 015.42 G79CO2 (1985-present).

 

Official Publications not issued by HMSO:

Official publications not issued by HMSO are issued by departments responsible for their own publications, such as the Geological Survey, the Patent Office, and the Admiralty. Publications of this type can include periodicals, newspapers, serials, leaflets, atlases, and posters. An index of these publications is available in the Reading Room. See the Catalogue of British Official Publications Not Published by HMSO (015.410533 C28). It indexes publications from 1981 to the present. The Catalogue groups publications by name of publishing body or government department.

 

Finding Publications in the Library

In both the paper and microfilm formats, the sessional papers are arranged chronologically by session year(s). In many cases the Library owns the same item in more than one format. Older (pre-1979/1980) Sessional Papers are uncataloged and can be found in the D and E ranges of Deck 5 West of the Main Stacks.

Parliamentary Publications in the UIUC library:

Parliamentary publications from the 1979/1980 session and later are available on microfiche and are filed in numeric order by session and series. The Library has parliamentary papers for 1993/94 to the present, and earlier materials can be found in the microforms collection of the History, Newspaper and Philosophy Library. Parliamentary papers from the 1978/1979 session and previous sessions are available in bound volumes and are located in the D and E ranges of Deck 5 West of the Main Stacks. An index is shelved as the last volume for each session. The parliamentary papers from the 1978/1979 session and earlier are uncataloged. Volumes are shelved according to session and subject.

Irish University Press:

The Irish University Press has reprinted important parliamentary papers from the nineteenth century. Indexes to the Irish University include the following:

  1. Catalogue of British Parliamentary Papers in the Irish University Press 1000-volume series and area studies series (1801-1900). Q. 015.42 IR423

  2. Checklist of British Parliamentary Papers in the Irish University Press 1000-volume series (1801-1899).
    Q. 015.42 IR42

The Irish University Press reprint volumes are in the Main Stacks. Search for them in the Library's online catalogs. These volumes include:

Q. 630.942 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Agriculture.

Q. 636.089 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Agriculture: Animal health.

Q. 301.29 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Anthropology: Aborigines.

Q. 941.58 IR47 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Civil disorder.

Q. 960 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Colonies: Africa.

Q. 994.03 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Colonies: Australia.

Q. 971.03 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Colonies: Canada.

Q. 327.71 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Colonies: Canadian boundary.

Q. 382 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Colonies: East India.

Q. 325.342 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Colonies: General.

Q. 993.1 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Colonies: New Zealand.

Q. 972.904 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Colonies: West Indies.

Q. 365.3 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Crime and punishment: Transportation.

Q. 365.942 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Crime and punishment: Prisons.

Q. 364.36 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Crime and punishment: Juvenile offenders.

Q. 351.74 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Crime and punishment: Police.

Q. 365.942 IR42 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Crime and punishment: Penal servitude.

Q. 027.242 B862I Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Education: British Museum.

Q. 709.42 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Education: Fine arts.

Q. 370.942 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Education: General.

Q. 371.96 IN4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Education: Poorer classes.

Q. 027.3 I68 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Education: Public libraries.

Q. 507 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Education: Scientific and technical.

Q. 325.242 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Emigration.

Q. 338.19 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Famine (Ireland).

Q. 639.2 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Fisheries.

Q. 338.27 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Fuel and power: Coal trade.

Q. 338.47 IR42 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Fuel and power: Gas.

Q. 622.007 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Fuel and power: Mining royalties.

Q. 622.8 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. [Fuel and power]: mining accidents.

Q. 338.27 IR42 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. [Fuel and power]: Mining districts.

Q. 354.42 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Government: Civil service.

Q. 354.42 IR42 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Government: Diplomatic service.

Q. 324.42 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Government: Elections.

Q. 352.042 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Government: Municipal corporations.

Q. 614.3 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Health: Food and drugs.

Q. 614.0942 IR42 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Health: General.

Q. 616.9 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Health: Infectious diseases.

Q. 610.69 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Health: Medical profession.

Q. 614.58 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Health: Mental.

Q. 331.1942 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Industrial relations.

Q. 745.2 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Industrial revolution: Design.

Q. 382.0942 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Industrial revolution: Trade.

Q. 331.31 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Industrial revolution: Children's employment.

Q. 331.0942 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Industrial revolution: Factories.

Q. 338.47 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Industrial revolution: Textiles.

Q. 368.3 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Insurance: Friendly societies.

Q. 608.742 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Inventions: General.

Q. 347.9942 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Legal administration: General.

Q. 343.42 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Legal administration: Criminal law.

Q. 347.6 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Marriage and divorce.

Q. 355.0942 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Military and naval.

Q. 338.54 IR42 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Monetary policy : Commercial distress.

Q. 332.42 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Monetary policy: Currency.

Q. 332.4 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Monetary policy: Decimal coinage.

Q. 332.1 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Monetary policy: General.

Q. 332.2 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Monetary policy: Savings banks.

Q. 336.42 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. National finance: General.

Q. 336.24 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. National finance: Income tax.

Q. 336.272 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Newspapers.

Q. 362.5 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Poor law.

Q. 312.42 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Population.

Q. 322.1 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Religion.

Q. 614.864 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Shipping safety.

Q. 326.1 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Slave trade.

Q. 364.173 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Social problems: Drunkenness.

Q. 364.172 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Social problems: Gambling.

Q. 658.87 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Social problems: Sunday observance.

Q. 792.0942 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Stage and theatre.

Q. 347.75 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Trade and industry: Navigation laws.

Q. 338.54 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Trade and industry: Depression.

Q. 662.2 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Trade and industry: Explosives.

Q. 338.47 IR43 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Trade and industry: Silver and gold wares.

Q. 338.17 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. [Trade and industry]: Tobacco.

Q. 383.1 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. [Trade and industry]: Tobacco.

Q. 380.942 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Transport and communications.

Q. 331.833 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Urban areas: Housing.

Q. 711.40942 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Urban areas: Planning.

Q. 628.3 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Urban areas: Sanitation.

Q. 333.912 IR4 Irish University Press series of British parliamentary papers. Urban areas: Water supply.

 

Other Publications:

The House of Commons Debates, also known as the Hansard, are catalogued and stored in the Main Stacks. The debates are divided into six series for the period 1803 to the present. The first four series, which cover the period 1803-1908, also include the House of Lords Debates.

1803-1820  The Parliamentary Debates Great Britain. Parliament. 328.42 H19

1820-1830 (Series 2)  The Parliamentary Debates Great Britain. Parliament. 328.42 H19SER

1830-1891 (Series 3)  Hansard's Parliamentary Debates Great Britain. Parliament. 328.42 H19SER

1892-1908 (Series 4)  The Parliamentary Debates (Authorized ed.) Great Britain. Parliament. 328.42 H19SER

1909-1981 (Series 5)  Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons Official Report. Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. 328.42 H19CSER

1980-present (Series 6)  Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons Official Report. Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. 328.42 H19CSER

House of Lords Debates are available in the first four series of the Hansard for the years 1803-1908. Those for the period 1909 to date have the following call numbers:

1909-1936/37 (5th series, v. 103) Parliamentary Debates, Official Report, House of Lords Great Britain. Parliament. House of Lords. 328.42 H19LSER.5

1936/37 (5th series, v. 104)-1942/1943 (5 th series, v. 129) The Parliamentary Debates, House of Lords Official Report Great Britain. Parliament. House of Lords. 328.42 H19LSER.5

1943/44 (5th series, v. 130)- Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Lords Official Report Great Britain. Parliament. House of Lords. 328.42 H19LSER.5

 

House of Commons and House of Lords Journals:

The Journals of the House of Commons and the House of Lords are the records of their proceedings. They record decisions and actions, not debates. The Journals are located in the Main Stacks. Some of the older volumes do not circulate.

UIUC Main Stacks Q. 328.42 G791 Great Britain. Parliament. House of Lords. JOURNALS (1509-1997)

UIUC Main Stacks Q. 328.42 G79 Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. JOURNALS. (1547-1996)

 

Electronic Publications

There is full-text access to some British government publications on the Internet.

Library Resources

British Government Web Pages:

Directories, Search Tools, and Departmental Web Pages:

  • Direct.gov
    This portal to the government and other trusted Internet information resources indexes web sites in the U.K. at both the local and national levels.
  • The National Archives
    The National Archives contain documents issued over the course of a millennium by the governments of England, Wales, and the UK. Founded in 2003 by merging the Public Records Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission, this entity preserves records of the central government and courts.
  • Office of Public Sector Information
    The Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) sets standards for, provides access to, and manages the reuse of official government information. It provides online access to UK legislation, licenses the reuse of Crown copyright material, manages the Information Fair Trader Scheme, maintains the Government’s Information Asset Register, and provides advice and guidance on official publishing and Crown copyright.
  • Official Documents
    The official reference for Command, House of Commons, and some departmental papers.
  • Office of the Queen's Printer for Scotland  This office of the Scottish Administration corresponds to Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO) in providing access to government information.

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Government Information Services, Access and Collections
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Phone: (217) 244-4621

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Mary Mallory, Coordinator, Government Information Services, Access and Collections, University Library

Karen Hogenboom, Numeric and Spatial Data Librarian, Scholarly Commons 
 
Stephanie Martin, Graduate Assistant, Government Information