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British History: Primary Sources - Government


Parliamentary Debates

This series, most often referred to as Hansard, reports debates in the houses of Parliament. The first four series covers debate up to 1908; these are authorized but are neither complete or necessarily verbatim and came from secondary sources. The fifth and sixth series which starts in 1909 are complete and verbatim. Parliamentary debate before 1803 is covered by Cobbett's Parliamentary History of England from the earliest period to the year 1803. This work is a retrospective compilation rather than a contemporaneous record.

A good starting point is the Parliament guide to Digitised Historical Parliamentary Material which lists legislation, debates, proceedings and journals, and more.

Since 1803, the debates have been printed in several series, as outlined below:

First 1803-1820
Second 1820-1830
Third 1830-1891
Fourth 1892-1908
Fifth (Lords) 1909-present
Fifth (Commons) 1909-March 13, 1981
Sixth (Commons only) March 16, 1981-present

Commons and Lords debates were published together until 1909, when they were separated. From 1909 the debates were published by the government, and were give the label "Official Report".

House of Commons debates through the present time;

House of Lords debates through 1908 only -see chart following this one for more Lords debates

Cobbett Cobbett v.1-36


Print  and Online

Main J301 .H2

Oxford Digital Library

Torbuck v.1-21 



Ebooks from ECCO


v. 1-5, 7, 10,11,13,15

v. 1-11


Print and Online

Spec Coll J301 .H2 1775-1780

Ebook from ECCO

Almon, Debrett

v. 1-18



Ebooks from ECCO


v. 1-11 1660-1740 Online

Ebooks from ECCO

Grey v.1-10 1667-1694 Online

British History Online

Hansard, Series 1-4

1st: v.1-41

2nd: v.1-25

3rd: v.1-356

4th: v.1-199

 1803-1908 Print and Online

Main J301 .H22


Hansard, Series 5, House of Commons only

v.1-900 1909-1974/75 Print  Main J301.K22
v.901-1000 1975/76-1981 Main J301.K22


1909-1981 Online Archived Commons Hansard
Hansard, Series 6, House of Commons only v.1-211 1980/81-1992/93 Print  Main J301.K22
v.142-424 1988-2004 Online Archived Commons Hansard
v.142-present  1988- present Online Commons Debate by Date

House of Lords Debates

Please see chart above for debates prior to 1909 when House of Lords were published with the House of Commons debates (with the exception of Timberland). The publications below include only House of Lords debates.

Timberland v. 1-8 1660-1742 Online

Ebook from ECCO





Main J301.J22




Lords Debates by Volume




Lords Debates by Date

Other Government Primary Sources

Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, of the reign of Henry VIII
Main DA25 .E112. Also digital version from  British History Online.

Calendar of state papers, Colonial series
Main DA25 .H5. Also digital version: Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, America and West Indies1574-1739Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, East Indies, China and Japan, 1513-1634.

British And Foreign State Papers, v.1-170. 1812-1969
Many also available online from Hathi Trust.  Main JX103 .A3

The public general acts and General Synod measures 1972-1987
Main KD125. Partial contents from 1801-1987also online.  

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913
"The largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court."

Guides to Parliamentary Papers

Index to House of Commons parliamentary papers (from 1801- 1990s) located at the H-L reference desk

A guide to parliamentary papers; what they are, how to find them, how to use them
Main Ref J301 .M3 1972

Sources for debates of the House of Commons, 1768-1774 
Main Ref J301 .T55 1959

House of Commons sessional papers of the eighteenth century
Main folio J301 .K625 1975 

Select list of British parliamentary, papers, 1833-1899 (sessional papers)
Main Ref  J301 .M3 1833-1899

Catalogue of parliamentary papers, 1801-1900, with a few of earlier date (arranged by subject)  (sessional papers) 
Main Ref J301 .M3 1801-1910

Catalogue of parliamentary papers, 1901-1910, being a supplement to catalogue of parliamentary papers, 1801-1900 (arranged by subject)  (sessional papers) 
Main Ref  J301 .M3 1801-1910 suppl

A breviate of parliamentary papers, 1900-1916; the foundation of the welfare state
Main Ref  J301 .M3 1900-1916 

Serial publications in the British Parliamentary papers, 1900-1968; a bibliography
Main Ref  J301 .R63 1971

A breviate of parliamentary papers, 1917-1939
Main Ref J301 .M3 1917-1939

A breviate of parliamentary papers, 1940-1954 : war and reconstruction 
Main Ref J301 .M3 1940-1954

Select list of British parliamentary papers, 1955-1964
Main Ref J301 .M3 1955-1964 

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