How to find official publications

This guide explains how to find official publications in our library and online.

The government and parliament publish a large amount of material each year, usually in series of publications.

See our other pages on how to find information on:

Command papers

Command papers are used to inform parliament about government information and decisions. They were first published as their own series in 1833. Before this they were included in the House of Commons Journal.

Where to find command papers

Our library holds command papers from 1833 to 2016 on microfiche and from 1955 onward on the subscription database, Public Information Online (PIO).

To find the correct microfiche:

  • before the 1979/80 session you’ll need the volume and page number, which can be found in the Index to the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (ask library staff)
  • after 1979/80 they have their own separate microfiche sequence in numerical order

If you do not know the command paper number, use the Index to the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers or ask library staff for help.

If the command paper is a treaty it may be listed in the Indexes to Treaties in Bay G6. Bowman and Harris, also in Bay G6, lists multilateral treaties, and the Index of British Treaties in Bay G6 lists treaties involving the UK. They both have subject indexes.

Recent command papers may be available on GOV.UK.

Numbering of command papers

Since command papers were first published in 1833 there have been several series distinguished by different prefixes abbreviating the word ‘command’. These are shown in the following table.

Numbering Years 
 1 to 4222 (no prefix)  1833 to 1869
 C 1 to C 9550  1870 to 1899
 Cd 1 to Cd 9239  1900 to 1918
 Cmd 1 to Cmd 9889  1919 to 1956
 Cmnd 1 to Cmnd 9927  1956 to November 1986
 Cm 1  November 1986 onward

Hansard

Parliamentary debates that take place on the floor of the House of Commons (HC) or the House of Lords (HL) are reported in the Official Report, commonly known as Hansard.

Where to find Hansard

Our library holds hard copies of both the HC and HL Hansard from 1803 to 2006 and from 1909 onward on the PIO subscription database.

HC and HL Hansards are available online from 1988 (HC) and 1995 (HL) onward.

Numbering of Hansard

Hansard is published in two series: the HC and HL series. They’re arranged by volume number, and within each volume, by column.

An example Hansard reference would be: HL Vol. 576 col. 122.

House of Commons papers

House of Commons (HC) papers are the result of work of the House of Commons and its committees. These include:

  • committee papers (not the debates)
  • minutes of proceedings
  • some annual reports and accounts

How to find HC papers

The library holds all HC papers from 1801 to 2016 on microfiche and from 1901 onward on the PIO subscription database.

To find the correct microfiche:

  • before the 1979/80 session you’ll need the volume and page number, which is on the Index to the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (ask library staff)
  • after 1979/80 they have their own separate microfiche sequence in numerical order

If you do not know the HC number, ask library staff for help.

There are also indexes of HC papers in the library at Bay N7.

Numbering of HC papers

HC papers are numbered from 1 at the beginning of each parliamentary session.

An example reference would be: HC 166 1998/99.

House of Lords Papers

House of Lords (HL) papers are the result of the House of Lords work. They include:

  • reports of select committees
  • minutes of proceedings
  • evidence heard by committees
  • some accounts

Where to find HL papers

The library holds HL papers from the 1984/85 session to 2016 on microfiche and from 1901 onward on the PIO subscription database.

If you do not know the HL number, ask library staff for help.

Numbering of HL papers

HL papers are numbered from 1 at the beginning of each parliamentary session.

An example reference would be: HL 25 2002/03.

Standing Committee and Public Bill Committee Debates

After the second reading of a bill comes the committee stage in which clauses are examined in detail.

The proceedings of these committees are published in the Standing Committee Debates. These were renamed Public Bill Committee Debates after the 2006/07 session.

Where to find Standing Committee and Public Bill Committee Debates

Our library holds hard copies of these debates from the 1967/68 session to 2016 and from 1919 onwards on the PIO subscription database.

These debates are also available from the 1997/98 session onward in full text, along with other committee debates, on the UK Parliament website.

Microfiche locations in the library

Years Cabinet  Location 
1801 to 1881 (to vol. LI)
B Next to Bay 42
1881 (from vol. LII) to 1914
D Next to Bay 41
1914 to 1985/86
C Between Bays 54 and 55
1985/86 to 2004/05
G Between Bays 58 and 59
2004/05 to 2016 I Between Bays 60 and 61