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British Parliamentary Documents

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On this page, you will find links to Parliamentary Debates at the University of Chicago Library.

Debates 1909 to Present

Parliamentary debates (Hansard), Official report.

 

access:

Debates (text files)

Lords Hansard, 1995 to  present
Commons Hansard, 1988 to present

Lords Hansard 1903-2005 (text files)

Historic Commons Hansard 1803-2005 (text files)

in print in the Library (House of Commons)

in print in the Library (House of Lords)

 

Debates 1803-1908

The parliamentary debates (official report[s]) ...

Hansard's parliamentary debates

access:


HANSARD 1803–2005 (text files)

Hathi Trust (image files - downoadable)
incomplete holdings

in print in the Library

Debates until 1803

Cobbett's Parliamentary History of England.


dates: 1066-1803

access:

House of Commons Parliamentrary Papers (text files)

via The Making of the Modern World (image files - downloadable)

Oxford Digital Library  (image files)

Hathi Trust (image files - downloadable)

in print in the Library

microfilm

The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons of England : with the speeches, debates, and conferences between the two Houses; through every session from the year 1660. Faithfully collected from the best authorities, compared with the Journals of Parliament.

printed for Ward and Chandler

dates:  1660-1714

access:

via Eighteenth Century Collections Online (image files - downloadable)
vols. 1-3

British History Online (text files)

in print in the Library

microfilm

 

The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons ... from the restoration of King Charles II. Containing the most remarkable motions, speeches, resolves, reports, and conferences ... Collected from the best authorities, compared with the Journals of the House; and illustrated with a great variety of historical and explanatory notes.

Chandler

dates: 1660-1743

access:

British History Online (text files)
vols. 1-10

in print in the Library
vols. 1-14

 

The Parliamentary Register; or, History of the Proceedings and Debates.... 

printed for J. Almon
Vols. 2, 5, 10, 14, 15 are proceedings of the House of Lords; the other volumes are proceedings of the House of Commons.

dates: 1774-1797

access:

via Eighteenth Century Collections Online (image files - downloadable)

Hathi Trust (image files - downloadable)

in print in the Library

microfilm

 

Debates of the House of Commons, during the thirteenth Parliament of Great Britain, commonly called the Unreported Parliament; to which are appended illustrations of the parliamentary history of the reign of George the Third.

Drawn up from the original manuscripts by J. Wright.

dates: 1768-1770

access:

Hathi Trust (image files -  downloadable)

in print in the Library

About Parliamentary Debates

The main business in both Houses of Parliament often takes the form of a debate including discussion on a Bill, general topics of interest, or issues selected by the major parties.[1]

The reporting of debates was illegal until the 19th century.  However, beginning in the 18th century many unofficial reports were printed by individuals.  These reports mostly came from secondary sources, including newspapers, and do not cover all of the debates of Parliament.   What does exist was first gathered by William Cobbett and reprinted as Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England.  Cobbett was bought out by Hansard in 1811.[2]

“A ‘New Series’ was begun with the opening of the reign of George IV (1820) and a ‘Third Series’ with that of William IV (1830) but this continued down to 1892 when Parliament, disatisfied with the reporting of its debates, put the contract out to tender and Hansard lost.  The ‘Fourth Series’, the first to be called ‘Authorised’, nevertheless was very similar to the previous series.”[3]

In most cases the first 4 series (1803-1908) published the Commons and Lords debates together;  the one exception is Ebenezer Timberland's The history and proceedings of the House of Lords from the Restoration in 1660 to the present time, containing the most remarkable motions, speeches, debates, orders and resolutions which only include House of Lords debates (1660-1742). 

Since 1909 two series are produced, one for each house, and the debates are now reported basicaly verbatim.  Even though Hansard no longer has a connection with the publishing of the debates, they are still known colloquially as “Hansard”.[4]


[1] “Digitised Historical Parliamentary Material - UK Parliament,” accessed August 27, 2013, http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/parliamentary-archives/archives-electronic/.

[2] Richard H. A. Cheffins, How to Find Information: Official Publications, 2004th ed. (London: British Library, 2004), 13.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 13–14.

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