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About Parliamentary Papers

As the working documents of government, the parliamentary papers encompass all areas of social, political, economic and foreign policy, showing how issues were explored and legislation was formed.

Sessional Papers

include: Bills - drafts of legislation, to be reviewed through various parliamentary stages; Reports of Committees - Select or the Whole House; Reports of Commissioners (Commissions appointed by the Crown to investigate social problems, to conduct inquiries into events, and as a preparation for legislation); Accounts: statistical information, originating primarily from the Treasury, the Board of Trade and the War Office/Admiralty; and Papers, including such types as correspondence from ambassadors, governors, army officers abroad; commercial, trade and navigation accounts; statistical abstracts: judicial, taxation, etc.; census data; slavery and slave trade documents.[1]

Command Papers

originate outside of Parliament and are printed only in the House of Commons Sessional  Papers.[2]   They include treaties, international agreements,  government policy initiatives and proposals for legislation, government consultation documents, government responses to Select Committee reports, reports of Royal Commissions and some other Committees of Inquiry, and statistics and annual reports of some government bodies.[3]


[1] “HCPP - Guide to HCPP,” accessed September 3, 2013,

[2] Richard H. A. Cheffins, How to Find Information: Official Publications, 2004th ed. (London: British Library, 2004), 23.

[3] “Government Publications (Command Papers) - UK Parliament,” accessed September 3, 2013,

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