Records of the House of Lords and House of Commons

This list is by no means exhaustive but aims to outline the most important series of House of Lords and House of Commons records held by the Parliamentary Archives.

Please note that, unfortunately, apart from the printed and manuscript Journals, all the records of the House of Commons before 1834 were destroyed in the fire of that year which burnt down the old Houses of Parliament.

Acts of Parliament - the original authoritative set of Acts of Parliament from 1497. These are in roll form up to 1849 and book form after, printed on vellum. Most public Acts and many private and local Acts are printed, and the printed copy will be made available in the first instance. The titles are searchable on our online catalogue Portcullis, and also at the Access to Archives website. Printed Acts are also widely available in public libraries, and the full text of Public Acts since 1988 and Local Acts since 1991 are available online at the UK Government Legislation website.

Committee Papers (Commons and Lords) - Committee Memoranda which are reported to the House but not printed to save on printing costs. They are listed in the front of the committee's report.

Hansard (also known as Parliamentary Debates or the Official Report) - transcripts of speeches and questions in Parliament, dating from 1803. There are indexes at the end of each volume and each session. Hansard is also widely available in public libraries, and from 1988 (Commons) and 1995 (Lords) it is available via the Parliament website Hansard page. A protoype website of the full text 1803-2005 is also available. 

Journals - original manuscript Journals, or daily minute, of the proceedings of the House of Lords and House of Commons, dating from 1510 (Lords) and 1547 (Commons). The Journals are printed and the printed copy will be made available in the first instance. Sets of the printed Journals may also be found in large research libraries. Early Journals of the House of Commons (up to 1700) and House of Lords (up to 1717) can be found on British History Online.

Judicial records - Appeal cases and other records of the House of Lords acting in its judicial capacity, dating from 1621. Judgments delivered since November 1996 can be found on the Parliament website.

Peerage claim records - include minutes of proceedings of the Committee for Privileges, printed cases, petitions and evidence submitted regarding the claim, dating from 1604.

Plans of canals, roads, railways and other public works - many thousands of plans deposited in connection with private bills from 1794. Often other associated papers are also preserved, including books of reference, lists of owners and occupiers, and estimates of expenses.

Sessional papers (printed) - papers laid before Parliament and printed (also known as Parliamentary Papers or 'Blue Books'). These include Bills, Parliamentary Committee reports and proceedings, and non-Parliamentary papers printed 'by Command' (Command Papers). These can be consulted at the Parliamentary Archives. However sets of sessional papers are also available in many research libraries throughout Britain. Also the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers 1801-2004 (plus some earlier material) have been digitised by Chadwyck Healy and are available on a subscription basis to university libraries and others.

Sessional papers (unprinted) - papers laid before Parliament and not printed (also known as Main Papers or Laid Papers). These survive from 1531 (Lords) and 1850 (Commons). The papers are very varied and include the Protestation Returns of 1642 and some petitions.

Guide to Parliamentary Records (PDF PDF 3.46 MB) This Readers Guide provides more information about the official records of Parliament.

Guide to Digitised Historical Parliamentary Material

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