Government publications (Command Papers)

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Government publications presented to Parliament are known as Command Papers. Most but not all Command Papers are published in a numbered series.

Different types of publications

The Command Papers series includes the following types of government publication:

  • State Papers - including treaties and international agreements.
  • White Papers - government policy initiatives and proposals for legislation.
  • Green Papers - government consultation documents.
  • Some government responses to Select Committee reports.
  • Reports of Royal Commissions and some other Committees of Inquiry.
  • Statistics and annual reports of some government bodies.

Unnumbered Command Papers include statements about gifts or guarantees made by government departments.

Presentation and numbering

Command Papers are government papers. They are presented to Parliament as conveying information or decisions that the government think should be drawn to the attention of one or both Houses of Parliament.

The term 'Command' is in the formula carried on the papers: "Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for ...by Command of Her Majesty".

The first numbered series of Command Papers was introduced in 1833. The current series is the sixth and began with 'Cm 1' in November 1986. The prefix changes with each series.

Access to government publications

Command Papers are government publications. The Stationery Office (TSO) Official Documents website hosts the full texts of many Command Papers. You can also view Command Papers in person at the Parliamentary Archives.

Other government publications can be found on the websites of individual government departments.

Government responses to Select Committee reports are available through the committee pages, either as links to government department websites or as special reports of the committee.

More details about Command papers can be found through the following publications:

Related information

Laid before Parliament: Published and presented to Parliament, normally required by law.

Other parliamentary papers

Learn about House of Commons and House of Lords Papers.

Related internet links

Parliament is not responsible for the content of external websites.