House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP)

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers contains over 200,000 papers from 1715 to the present, with supplementary material which goes back to 1688.

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House of Commons Parliamentary Papers contains over 200,000 papers from 1715 to the present, with supplementary material which goes back to 1688. Accompanying the papers is detailed indexing from Peter Cockton's 'Subject catalogue of Parliamentary Papers, 1801-1900'.

Before the advent of a fully formed Whitehall departmental system, Parliament was the main source of public information, ordering the publication of papers, returns, reports and evidence on a grand scale. These papers and reports are often fascinating and exhaustive in their detail. In an environment of relatively inexpensive printing, the result was around 5,900 bound volumes and 4.2 million pages of papers for the 19th century alone.

HCPP includes digital versions of these sessional papers.

It does not include debates (Hansard), the House of Commons Journal, or daily business papers, such as Order papers and Votes and Proceedings. These are outside the scope of a precise application of the term parliamentary papers.
Sessional papers, sometimes called blue books, were required for the work of the House of Commons, providing information on matters of policy and administration, and ordered by the House to be printed. They fall into the following three categories:

  • Bills - drafts of legislation, to be reviewed through various parliamentary stages. If the Bill passes through these stages, it will become an Act of Parliament.
  • House Papers - documents resulting from the work of the House and its Committees.
  • Command Papers - Government papers (from Ministers) conveying information or decisions the Government wishes to draw to the attention of the House, presented by Command of Her Majesty.

Both Houses of Parliament, the Commons and the Lords, produce parliamentary papers. Although HCPP is a collection of Commons papers, some from the Lords are also included. This is because the Lords often presented papers to the Commons, such as reports prepared by Lords Select Committees. These reports were then included in the House of Commons Papers, and therefore appear in HCPP.

The collection complements 18th Century Official Parliamentary Publications Portal 1688 1834

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