UK national government publications

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We hold an extensive collection of UK government publications in print and electronic formats from the Middle Ages to the present day. As well as Westminster government documents, the collection includes publications of devolved administrations and local authority materials.

About the collection

The collection begins with the Parliament Rolls of Medieval England on CD-ROM and ends with downloaded websites of modern government legislatures, departments and agencies held in the Legal Deposit Web Archive. It includes Commons and Lords papers and bills from the 18th century to the present day, and official and unofficial reports of Parliamentary debates. Following a cutback in Parliamentary publishing in 1921, departments and agencies produced a wealth of statistical, policy, research, regulatory and guidance materials which was added to the collections under legal deposit.

The strength of the British Library is that this official material is presented in the context of newspaper comment, analysis in a wide range of academic journals and research monographs from the UK and overseas, and manuscript collections including the papers of prominent politicians.

What is available online?

Almost all current UK Parliamentary and departmental publications, and those of local government and the devolved administrations, can be found free of charge on the Web:

Electronic versions of official publications are presented in the context of comment and analysis in full text digital reports from prominent think tanks and academic research centres in the Social Welfare and Management and Business Studies portals. All content is available for download.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

Please ask the staff on duty at the Reference Enquiry Desk for help finding official publications.

The following PDF guides provide detailed information on UK materials and legislation held in the Library:

Some key texts, including Hansard from 1803, Commons and Lords Journals, and current House of Commons papers, are shelved in the Social Sciences Reading Room. Other printed UK official publications have to be requested for delivery. Readers also have access to a range of subscribed e-resources, including:

  • Central Office of Information Archive
  • State Papers Online from the Tudor period to the 18th century
  • House of Commons Parliamentary Papers online 1688- (now including House of Lords papers to 1910)
  • Public Information Online - a one-stop shop providing access to full text of the papers and debates of the UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly from ca. 2008.

The Legal Deposit Web Archive gives on-site users access to successive gathers of central and local government websites, enabling researchers to trace policy development, presentation and implementation over time.

How to guides

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If you can’t find a document in our catalogue, ask at the reference desk

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