The Parliament of the UK had 3 roles. Firstly to debate and pass legislation, secondly to scrutinise the work and role of the government and also to provide a mechanism for the government to raise taxes. This guide will concentrate on the first role, the passing of legislation. The UK Parliament consists of 2 houses and broadly speaking any decision made in one of the houses must be approved by the other.
The House of Commons is made up of elected members (MPs) and the party that holds a majority of seats usually forms the government. This is where the majority of debate on big political issues takes place and from this the proposal of new laws. The Commons is the only place where the third role of government takes place (although advice can be taken from the Lords on financial matters it can not oppose them).
House of Lords is made up mainly of those appointed by the Queen but there are members internally elected and a small number from the Church. The Lords has a major role in the passing of new legislation and as advisors on policy and special topics.
1800 to present day
This really is an incredible set of primary source material. Within this vast set, over 25,000 volumes there is an absolute wealth of information. Subjects range from: slavery, small pox and railways to the sinking of the Titanic. You will also find maps, illustrations and photographs within the documents. Large series of commissioners reports, annual departmental reports and statistics also run through the collection.
- The Official Papers has a full set of both Lords and Commons Parliamentary papers, 1801 to the present day on open shelf situated on the ground floor of the Bodleian Law Library
- The House of Commons papers are available in full text at the U.K Parliamentary Papers database from 1801-2003/2004. University members need to log in for remote access. (House of Lords papers are available on the U.K. Parliametnary Papers database only when they are published as a joint committee with the a Commons committee)
- House of Lords Papers 1900- present are available at Public Information Online. House of Commons papers from 2006-
- Search SOLO by title for papers published post 2000
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org if assistance is required.
- Freely available. ProQuest
Guide to the Census reports Great Britain 1801-1966Freely available. Census reports were printed as Parliamentary Papers from 1801 -1911.
The Official Papers has a full set of census report from 1801 to the present day on open shelf.
- Freely available. The Online Historical Population Reports (OHPR) collection provides online access to the complete British population reports for Britain and Ireland from 1801 to 1937.
Types of Parliamentary Papers
Until 1801 Parliamentary Papers were not formally presented. The bound set consists of two distinct sets of papers. The papers of the House of Commons and the papers of the House of Lords. They are arranged by parliamentary sessional year. The state opening of Parliament, usually in October marks a new set of Parliamentary papers. A general election also starts a new parliamentary session.
Bills At the state opening of Parliament the Government lists the legislation that it hopes to pass in the Queen’s/King’s speech. A Bill is the form legislation takes before it becomes and Act. A bill has to go pass through a set procudure where it is debated in both chambers of the House where amendments are made. The various stages are published as House of Lords Bills (HL Bill) or House of Commons Bills (Bill) Bills start from 1 at the begining of each new Parliamentary session.
House of Commons/Lord Papers These are papers which result from the work of the House and its Committees or are otherwise necessary for its
work. To include select committee papers, minutes of proceedings of public bill committees, estimates and appropriation accounts. The papers start from 1 at the begining of each new Parliamentary session.
Command Papers are Parliamentary Papers presented to the United Kingdom Parliament nominally by command of the Sovereign, but in practice by a Government Minister. The numbering is continuous over sessional sessions, they are differentiated by a letter prefix: They bound with the House of Commons papers. The House of Lords does not generate command papers.
 to  1833-1868/69
C.1 to C.9550 1870-1899
Cd.1 to Cd.9239 1900-1918
Cmd.1 to Cmd.9889 1919-1955/56
Cmnd.1 to Cmnd.9927 1956/57-1985/86
Cm.1 1986/87 to date
- Access to ArchivesFreely available. A2A is part of the UK archives network. The A2A database contains catalogues describing archives held locally in England and Wales and dating from the eighth century to the present day
- Archives hubFreely available. The Archives Hub provides a gateway to thousands of the UK’s richest archives. Representing over 180 institutions across the country.
- British History OnlineUniversity members will need to login for remote access. British History Online is the digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles. Created by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust.
- Cabinet Papers 1915-1980Freely available. The National Archive’s Cabinet Papers website provides an online resource of primary source material on the outbreak and events of the first and second world wars, the post-war division of Europe, the creation of the welfare state and the end of empire.
- Conservative Party Archivesituated in the Weston Library
- History of ParliamentFreely available. The History of Parliament is a research project creating a comprehensive account of the parliamentary politics in England, then Britain, from their origins in the thirteenth century.
- History of Parliament : Oral history projectFreely available. The History of Parliament’s oral history project is working with the British Library to create a sound archive of British politics since 1945. They have now interviewed over fifty former MPs and the first of these interviews are available in the British Library.
- Macmillon Cabinet PapersUniversity members will need to login for remote access. Macmillan Online offers direct access to documents from the highest level of Government during the Macmillan Administration. Topics covered include the Berlin Crisis, 1958-1961, the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962, the Commonwealth Immigration Act, 1962, and the Profumo Scandal, June 1963. With some 30,000 images of original documents, taken from CAB 128 and CAB 129 as well as selected files from PREM 11 and CAB 124, this project is as important a source for world history as it is for British politic
- Modern Political PapersThe Bodleian Library holds one of the largest concentrations of modern British political manuscripts and archives, providing a breadth of coverage which makes it a resource of national and international significance. The collections have been drawn from the private papers of politicians from all three major political parties, as well as from public servants (mainly diplomats), print and broadcast journalists, and others active in public life.
- Print Still MattersFreely available. Use this site to discover which libraries in the United Kingdom have PRINT collections of publications issued by the UK Parliament, UK Government, and the Devolved Assemblies, Parliaments, and Administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.