Quick Links

British Parliamentary Debates (Hansard)

Official publication of the British parliamentary debates, also known as Hansard or the Official Report, began in 1909. Since then, all speeches delivered in both Houses are transcribed by parliamentary staff and printed substantially verbatim. Previously, the debates were compiled in various parliamentary histories and privately published proceedings of Parliament.

All titles in this selective list of debates are available in print or microform at the Government Information Service under the call numbers listed here. Links to electronic versions are provided below where available, though not all years may be available online in some cases.

1066-1803

Early published debates are of varying faithfulness to the actual words spoken by members of Parliament, and do not always offer a comprehensive account of all parliamentary business. These older debates often relied on accounts published in newspapers or parliamentary diaries as their source material. Where possible, it is advisable to consult more than one version.

Aside from the debates themselves, these publications sometimes include lists of members, divisions (voting records), and reprints of parliamentary papers and political pamphlets.

1803-2005

The ongoing Hansard Digitisation Project has launched a beta site with a nearly complete set of House of Commons Debates from 1803-2005.

1803-1909

Hansard's Parliamentary Debates

The following series of debates were designed by Thomas Curson Hansard as a continuation of Cobbett's Parliamentary History. From 1803 to 1830, the debates were prepared from newspaper accounts, pamphlets, etc. From 1830 to 1878, Hansard's own reporters covered the sessions and some proofs were sent to members for revision, but the Debates were still compiled in large part from newspaper reports. As a result of a Treasury grant in 1878, the Hansard firm was able to employ full-time reporters and cover the debates more completely. Speeches are generally no less than a third of their original length.

1909-present

With the fifth series, Parliament took over publication duties. The debates for each House began being printed separately, and became much more ambitious publications. While not completely verbatim, the debates are "substantially the verbatim report, with repetitions and redundancies omitted and with obvious mistakes corrected, but which on the other hand leaves out nothing that adds to the meaning of the speech or illustrates the argument." Written answers to questions and complete division lists (voting records) are also included.

Publication of the debates of Standing Committees of the House of Commons also began in 1909.

The Parliamentary Debates - House of Commons

The Parliamentary Debates - House of Lords

Devolved Assemblies

Northern Ireland

The Parliament of Northern Ireland, established by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, sat from 1921 until direct rule in 1972. The current legislature, the Northern Ireland Assembly, began in sitting in 1998. The assembly was suspended from 2002 to 2007. As with the House of Commons, members can propose minor corrections prior to publication so long as the substance of what was said is not altered.

Scotland

The Scottish Parliament was formed in 1999.

Wales

The National Assembly for Wales was formed in 1999.

Questions? Ask Us!    Email  •  Chat  •  Phone            Comments/suggestions? Please let us know.