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Parliamentary Papers at MU: Sessional Papers

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Sessional Papers

Sessional Papers
Papers presented to Parliament (also known as the House and Command Papers). Before 1921 almost all important government documents were presented to Parliament for their consideration. Beginning in 1921, only documents considered directly relevant to impending legislation have been presented. Between 1541 and 1730, it is often necessary to rely on the Journals for reports of committees or government departments. It is also important to note that the Commons sessional papers were not comprehensively collected prior to the 19th Century and that many were lost in the 1834 House of Commons fire.  Pre-1800s, select papers appeared in the journals.

Types of Papers: 

Public Bills: Arranged by title and numbered as a separate series. Relate to matters of public policy and proposed by members of Parliament.  The route of public bills are two readings in the House of Commons, a committee stage, report stage, and third reading before going to the House of Lords for approval or amendment.  If passed, it becomes an act.  If amended, the process repeats itself until both Houses agree.

Private Bills/Local and Personal Acts:  Only printed once they become acts.  Bills prompted by the interest of a particular group and are promoted to Parliament by the group members, similar to American Interest Groups.  These bills are published by their promoters and only receive official publication if they become an Act of Parliament, but as a separate document.

General Public Acts: These started as bills that were passed in both Houses and have received royal approval.  They are published individually within the calendar year with calendar numbers.  These form the laws and statues. A sample citations are:  Prior to 1963-  Highway Act 1959 7 & 8 Eliz. 2 c. 25. and After 1963 Merchant Shipping Act 1970 c. 36.

Reports of General/Standing Committees: Arranged alphabetically by subject or name of committee. Originally intended for an informal discussion. Today it is not used for inquiry, only deliberation. They include reports from the whole House, i.e. the whole House sitting as a committee.  Termed Standing Committee until 2006.

Reports of Select Committees: Created to deal with matters on a particular topic during the course of a Session. These committees (until mid-19th century) were the chief means by which Parliament conducted its investigations.  Evidence from the reports are usually reprinted to coincide.

Return: A term used for those papers Parliament requires from the Departments as they work on issues or topics.  They are printed on demand prior to 1987.  After 1987 they have been compiled into the Sessional Returns.

Act Papers: An Act of Parliament has required that certain papers, especially reports and accounts, be presented before the House. Examples are the annual reports of the British Transport Commission and Minutes of the Proceedings of Standing Committees.

Church Assembly Measures:  Passed by the National Assembly of the Church of England and approved by the crown.  They are published as individual documents and collectively with the Acts of Parliament.

Important Facts to Know:

  1. Many former sessional papers, such as annual and serial reports from government departments and reports of boards and commissions, were once published as Parliamentary Papers.  Since World War I, they have been published as Non-Parliamentary Papers or have ceased publication.
  2. House of Commons sessional papers are published  as the House of Commons Papers.
  3. House of Commons bills are published as House of Commons Bills.
  4. House of Lords Papers are published as House of Lords Papers and Bills.
    1. For both Houses the number of each paper is printed in the bottom left hand corner of the cover.
    1. Sample citations:
      1. Commons:  HC 298, 1969-1970 (HC Paper number, session)
      2. Lords:  HL 78, 1969-1970 (HL Paper number, session)
  5. After each calendar year, the acts are published collectively as The Public General Acts and Measures (also including the Measures of the Church Assembly).
  6. Also published is the Chronological Table of the Statutes which lists every act of Parliament and lists if they have expired, repealed, or are still in existence.
  7. The House of Lords publish far fewer sessional papers.
  8. Many papers are presented in both Houses and appear in both series of papers.

Locating Sessional Papers:

  1. Books In Ellis:
    1. Papers:
      1. Reports from Committees of the House of Commons, Which Have Benn Printed by Order of the House, and are not Inserted into the Journals, Reprinted by Order of the House
        1. Covers 1715-1801
        2. Call Number: J301.K56. 16 volumes. Located in Ellis Large Print Room 202
    2. Indexes:
      1. General Indexes to the Bills, Reports, and Papers Printed by Order of the House of Commons and to the Reports and Papers Presented by Command
        1. Multiple volumes covering 1801-1949
        2. Call Number: 328.42 G79a Index (followed by year ranges).  Located in Ellis 3 West.
      2. General Index to the Accounts and Papers, Reports of Commissioners, Estimates, etc.
        1. Call Number: 328.43 G79a.  Located in Ellis 3 West.
      3. General Alphabetical Index to the Bills, Reports, Estimates, Accounts, and Papers, Printed by the Order of the House of Common, and to Papers Presented by Command
        1. Covers 1800-1899 in four volumes.
        2. Call Number:  328.42 G79a.  Located Ellis 3 West.
      4. List of House of Commons Sessional Papers, 1701-1750.  Edited: Sheila Lambert
        1. Call Number: CD1042.A2 L56 1.  Request from UM Libraries Depository (UMLD).
      5. A General Index to the Sessional Papers Printed by the Order of the House of Lords or Presented by Special Command
        1. Call Number: J301.J6 Index 1801-1859a.  Request from UM Libraries Depository (UMLD).
      6. Select List of British Parliamentary Papers, 1955-1964
        1. Call Number:  JN549.F62.  Requestable from UM  Libraries Depository (UMLD).
        2. Sessional papers from both the House of Commons and House of Lords.
  2. Books at Law Library:
    1. Statues at Large from the Magna Carta to the end of the [reign of King George the third]
      1. Cover 1215-1820.  18 volumes.
      2. Call Number: DK130 125.R8 1769.  Law Library Rare Book Room, request appointment.  Click here for contact information.
    2. The Statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland: with Notes, References, and an Index.
      1. Covers 1801-1869.  18 volumes.  
      2. Call Number: KD130 1801.S8 1804.  Law Library Rare Book Room, request appointment.  Click here for contact information.
    3. Statues of the Realm
      1. From approximately 1850 to present
        1. Uncataloged. Location: Law Library Third Floor (right outside and to the right of the elevator) filed under British Case Law
      2. Pre-1850
        1. Uncataloged.  Law Library Rare Book Room, request appointment.  Click here for contact information.
    4. Chitty's England Statues 6th Ed.
      1. Covers laws existing in 1911 to 1925.  24 volumes and index volume.
      2. Uncataloged. Law Library Rare Book Room, request appointment.  Click here for contact information.
    5. The Legislation of the Empire, 1898-1970.
      1. Four volumes including index.
      2. Uncataloged. Law Library Rare Book Room, request appointment.  Click here for contact information.
    6. Parliamentary History or Consitutional History of England
      1. Covers "earliest times to the end of Charles II reign."
      2. Uncataloged. Law Library Rare Book Room, request appointment.  Click here for contact information.
    7. Cobbett's Parliamentary History of England from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the Year 1803
      1. 36 volumes.
      2. Uncataloged. Law Library Rare Book Room, request appointment.  Click here for contact information.
    8. The Statutory Rules and Orders Revised
      1. Copyright 1890; likely covers all 1890 and before statutes.  7 volumes.
      2. Uncataloged. Law Library Rare Book Room, request appointment.  Click here for contact information.
    9. Statutory Rules and Orders
      1. Covers 1890-1915.
      2. Uncataloged. Law Library Rare Book Room, request appointment.  Click here for contact information.
    10. Chronological Table and Index of the Statues to the Statues in Force
      1. Covers 1235-1928.  2 volumes.
      2. Uncataloged. Law Library Rare Book Room, request appointment.  Click here for contact information.
    11. Index to the Statues in Force
      1. Covers 1235-1952.  3 volumes.
      2. Uncataloged. Law Library Rare Book Room, request appointment.  Click here for contact information.
    12. Public Genral Acts Passed in the Year ... of the Reign of Edward the Seventh
      1. Volumes for 1903, 1904, 1905, and 1906.
      2. Uncataloged. Law Library Rare Book Room, request appointment.  Click here for contact information.
  3. Microform:
    1. Papers:
      1. Searching "Great Britain" and "Sessional Papers" bring up a token amount of individually published papers.
      2. House of Commons Parliamentary Papers. Bills. Located in MU Ellis Special Collections.  Covers 1979/1980-2006/2007.
      3. House of Commons Parliamentary Papers.  H.C.  Located in MU Ellis Special Collections.  Covers 1979/1980-2006/2007.
      1. Sessional Papers. Covers 1731-1900 Sessional Papers. Located in MU Ellis Special Collections.
        1. Volume numbering restarts with each session.
    2. Indexes:
      1. UMKC's Division List 1836-1910 (Index to those years of the Papers); Also microfiche.
    1. IN MOBIUS:
      1. Papers:
        1. More years and type of papers are available at two places.  However, at this point they are not requestable so the user must travel to the other university.
          1. Washington University has the House of Commons from 1731-1800, 1866-1920, and 1992-2002.
          2. Washington University has the House of Lords: dates unknown 1 and dates unknown 2 and 1992/93-2001/02
      1. Indexs:
        1. Select List of British Parlimentary Papers, 1833-1899
          1. Call Number:  KD86  Index 1833. Requestable form Washington University
    2. Databases:
      1. Hein Online
        1. Access to 1220-1713 Statues and their index.
        2. Use above link, the scroll down to click on Statutes of the Realm
    3. Online:
      1. General Committee Debates
      2. Public Bill Committee Debates 2006-present
      3. Parliamentary Committee Publications
      4. Parliamentary Committee Website
      5. TSO Office