If the recent European Union debate has generated a desire to further understand the mechanisms of UK politics you can delve deeper into parliamentary history via our June Database of the Month, the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP). The database provides access to three hundred years of sessional papers, the working documents of government. When explored these vital primary documents can develop an understanding of the current workings of Parliament, and also reveal the long history behind our laws and traditions.
The database has a number of uses as source material. Perhaps you might want to read up on a debate about trade legislation for a business assignment, trace the history of child support for a Sociology seminar or look at past approaches to immigration for a History talk. Most importantly, it can contribute to a fuller comprehension of current legislation, policy making and the often opaque governmental sphere.
Papers come in three types. Bills are the drafts of future legislation, revised until they are passed as law. House Papers are the background documents derived from the various activities of the Parliament. Lastly, Command Papers are papers written by ministers to disseminate information or notify the House of decisions. The HCPP offers the opportunity to search across these documents, either as a full text search inside the items or to look for bibliographic records. You can concentrate on a theme or browse a period in time. At the moment, coverage only extends until 2004 as materials are added, but this does result almost ten million papers to explore.
To search for House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, from the Library Homepage, simply:
◦Follow the link to Databases A-Z
◦ Select ‘H’, scroll down and follow the link for House of Commons Parliamentary Papers.
The murky business of UK politics is made clearer by this intelligent resource.