House of Commons Background Papers
This page lists a number of detailed background papers on aspects of Parliamentary procedure and practice produced by the Parliament and Constitution Centre, part of the House of Commons Library.
- Background Paper: Traditions and customs of the House
Read about a number of the lesser-known and more unusual customs, procedures and behaviours of the House of Commons.
- Background Paper: Divisions
When the House of Commons votes it is called a division. Find out about the current practice and historical development of divisions.
- Background Paper: Father of the House
The Father of the House is a title given to the senior Member of the House of Commons. Find out about the duties associated with the post of Father of the House and its history.
- Background Paper: Resignation from the House of Commons
MPs cannot directly resign their seat. Read about the ways in which an MP can instead disqualify themselves from membership of the House of Commons.
- Background Paper: Parliamentary Questions
Parliamentary questions (PQs) are one of the principal methods by which Members hold the government to account. Find about about the system of Parliamentary Questions in the House of Commons.
- Background Paper: Public Engagement
Read about the public engagement initiatives that have been undertaken by Parliament since 2006.
- Background Paper: The Budget and the annual Finance Bill
Find out how Parliament scrutinises the Government's proposals for taxation, set out in the annual Budget statement.
- Background Paper: The European Union: a guide to terminology, procedures and sources
Read a background paper clarifying some of the terminology used to describe the institutions, laws and procedures of the European Union. This paper also provides links to useful sources of information on the EU.
- Background Paper: Public Bills
This background paper sets out how legislation is passed through the House of Commons and the House of Lords and explains the terms involved.
- Background Paper: Private Bills
Private legislation is legislation which affects specific groups of people or localities, unlike public legislation, which affects all people equally. Find out more about the Parliamentary stages of Private Bills.
- Background Paper: Hybrid Bills
A bill with characteristics of both a public bill and a private bill is called a hybrid bill. This Background Paper outlines the procedures followed in considering a hybrid in the House of Commons.
- Background Paper: Statutory Instruments
Acts of Parliament (primary legislation) often confer powers on Ministers to make more detailed orders or regulations by means of statutory instruments (SIs). Read more about Statutory Instruments and the Parliamentary procedures related to them.
- Background Paper: Disciplinary and Penal Powers of the House of Commons
Read about the various disciplinary powers of the House of Commons.
- Background Paper: Constitutional change: timeline from 1911
Read a note containing a short and highly selective chronology of constitutional change over the past century. Prominent themes include parliamentary reform, devolution and changes to the franchise.
- Background Paper: Women Members of Parliament
This background paper provides a list of all the women who have ever been elected to the House of Commons.
Futher research material produced by the Parliament and Constitution Centre is available at: