Leeds University Library

Government documents and official publications

British official publications are the publications of, or for, the British government and its departments. They are important primary sources of information in all subjects. Leeds University Library has extensive holdings of British official publications, including parliamentary papers, parliamentary debates, non-parliamentary publications and acts of parliament.

Since 1969 the Library has had a subscription to (virtually) all the publications published by the official government publisher, Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO), now known as The Stationery Office (TSO). However, since the 1980s, government departments have increasingly published their own material, which can make it difficult to trace and locate publications. The Library selectively acquires these non-TSO official publications.

Abbreviations in official publications



Parliamentary papers

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. It is named after Thomas Curson Hansard, a 19th century printer and publisher of the debates.

The debates contained within are extremely useful for matters such as 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.

Finding Hansard

Departmental (non-parliamentary) publications

Departmental publications are British official publications not issued as part of the parliamentary process. They are also often referred to as "non-parliamentary publications".

Virtually all government departments issue publications to inform both Parliament and the public of their activities and policies, and to make available information they have collected. The output of some departments is almost exclusively parliamentary. However, other departments increasingly issue material as departmental publications, either directly or via the Stationery Office (TSO). These publications are varied in nature and include circulars, administrative reports, enquiry and advisory reports, technical and research reports, policy papers (including some green papers and white papers), advice and guidance including codes of practice, reference sources and statistics.

Finding departmental publications

Acts of Parliament and Statutory Instruments

Official publications of international organisations

Official publications of other countries

The Library has a limited collection of official publications of several foreign and Commonwealth countries.
These are mainly kept together in a separate section of Official Publications in the Brotherton Library (West building floor 2).

Catalogue and indexes

All the official publications from other countries are catalogued. Most can be found using Search@Library, but some older items (pre-1991) only appear in the digitised manual catalogue.

There are printed catalogues and indexes for some countries in the "Indexes" section of Official Publications in the Brotherton Library (West building floor 3).

For help finding official publications, please contact us.