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Government documents and official publications

Parliamentary debates (Hansard)

Hansard (also known as the Official Report) is the report of the proceedings of the British Parliament.

It is a full report, in the first person, of virtually every word said in the debates in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, with only repetitions and redundancies omitted and obvious mistakes corrected.

The debates are extremely useful for tracing the passage of a Bill through Parliament, and for establishing Parliament's feelings on political issues of the day.

Commons Hansard covers proceedings in the Commons Chamber and the sub-chamber Westminster Hall.

Lords Hansard covers proceedings in the Lords Chamber and its Grand Committees.

Both Commons and Lords Hansard contain the relevant written ministerial statements and written answers.

Search for Hansard material online

The UK Parliament website has the full text of:

  • Commons Hansard from November 1988
  • Lords from November 1994

Debates from the same day are available approximately three hours behind real time, with the previous day's debates available in full by 8am the following day.

You can also search the Hansard Digitisation Project for debates from 1803–2005. This is a prototype test database produced by the libraries of the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Search the Library for Hansard material

Complete sets of parliamentary debates for both Commons and Lords from 1803–2009 are in the Library store.

Earlier volumes are available in Special Collections in the Brotherton Library.

You can find 19th-century parliamentary debates in sources other than Hansard. They are listed in A bibliography of parliamentary debates of Great Britain. Consult the Library Catalogue for details of location.

Search indexes

Use one of the following indexes to find debates on a particular subject or by a particular person:

  • Commons Hansard: each bound volume has an index to its contents. At the conclusion of a session, a separate index volume for the entire session is produced
  • Lords Hansard: each bound volume contains a cumulative index to that session. The sessional index is in the final volume of the session

Public Bill Committee debates

These are reports of the debates of Public Bill Committees appointed by the Commons to consider Bills. Prior to session 2006/07 they were known as Standing Committees.

They are available on the web from session 1997/98 onwards on the UK Parliament website.

The Library has printed reports of debates on Bills for 1951/52-2006/07. They are located in the Library store.