House of Commons Open Day

Once again, the House of Commons Library will be holding an open day to enable librarians and information officers to visit and hear about the professional service provided by the Library to MPs and their staff.

This full-day event on Tuesday 13 February 2018 includes talks and presentations by Library staff, a short tour of Parliament and a very rare opportunity to see the Members’ Library.

The cost of the open day will be £35 and will include refreshments and lunch.

To register interest, please complete the application form linked from the Parliament website, where more information can be found, and submit it by 17 November 2017.

General Election 2017 – useful resources

Here is a selection of resources on the upcoming election that will take place on June 8th.

General Election 2017 topic page and timetable from the UK Parliament

A very good topic page Parliament and elections  can be found on Second Reading the House of Commons Library blog. There you will find a post on the  Constituency explorer ‘ an online data visualisation tool that allows statistical comparisons at a Parliamentary constituency, regional and national level. The tool uniquely provides UK-wide interactive data for parliamentary constituencies to provide a fascinating insight into the make-up of these areas.’

Always good for reliable information, the UK independent fact checking charity Full Fact

This is a great resource, use the Ordnance Survey’s ‘Election maps‘ for Great Britain and Northern Ireland to find out the electoral geography of the UK.

BBC’s ‘Policy pledge tracker‘ The manifestos are not out yet – this page offers a rundown of significant policy commitments made so far during the election campaign. It will be updated as new pledges are made.

Election Polling ‘is a UK polling website dedicated to the non-partisan discussion and analysis of electoral data in the United Kingdom and its regions.’

Electoral Calculus ‘an independent website which provides analysis, comment and predictions of general elections, polls and democracy.’

Democracy Candidates Club search by candidate name or postcode for further information on a candidate.

From Political Science Resources, a list of MPs who retired at the announcement of the 2017 General Election and a list of UK MPs 2015-2017 , which can be ordered by majority, surname or constituency.

The 2017 UK General Election website, ‘offering news, insight and analysis, a non-partisan website.’

Hannah Chandler, Bodleian Libraries Oxford


Brexit Brexit Brexit

There are some fantastic resources out there! In fact there is an awful lot out there! Below is not intended to be an exhaustive list but an introduction to some of the resources available at your finger tips…

From Parliaments/Assembly:

From the UK Parliament:   ‘European Union‘ and ‘Brexit: the next steps of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU‘ topic pages are a rich source of information.
Research Briefings produced by the House of Commons Library are very good at giving clear and concise explanations to complex subjects, for example, ‘Brexit: what impact on those currently exercising free movement rights?

Second Reading‘ the blog of the House of Commons Library has a page dedicated to Brexit.

SPICeBrexitWeekly  Weekly publication by the Scottish Parliament‘s Information Centre (SPICe) on the UK’s exit from the EU.

Brexit Update
 and blog from the National Assembly of Wales 

From Government:

The Department for Exiting the European Union is responsible for overseeing negotiations to leave the EU and establishing the future relationship between the UK and EU. You will find announcements and links to their publications, to include in full, the Prime Minister’s letter to Donald Tusk triggering Article 50.

Other resources: 

The History of the EU‘ timeline by Sally Mclaren, Inner Temple Library is particularly good. The timeline is clear, interactive, easy to navigate and not text heavy.  It is extremely useful to be able  to explore a complex subject in spacial terms. Links to relevant documents are available and the EU myths are delightful, for example, ‘EU forces farmers to give pigs toys’. A lot of time and thought has gone into this informative aid.

Brexit in Law pages from the UK’s independent fact checking charity, Full Fact.

The BBC published  ‘Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU‘ on the 29th March 2017.

There are many resources available online from academic institutions throughout the UK, too many to mention all but here is a flavour: the London School of Economics’ Brexit blog‘,  Queen’s Brexit resource guide,  Queen’s University, Belfast, European Futures,  University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Europa Institute and ‘Welsh Brexit/Brexit a Chymru‘, Cardiff University.

Hannah Chandler, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford



Second Reading – the House of Commons Library blog

Second reading is a really useful, informative blog!  You can subscribe to the blog and, for example,  be alerted to a new publication,  a recent debate or relevant statistics (with links) from government, parliament and wider and be briefed about the issues and context. There are also posts on salient issues such as ‘Steel in crisis: timeline and events in Parliament‘, published on April 27 2016. Blog posts are a great way to get a brief introduction into what can be very complex subjects, some posts also have links to more in depth research briefings that the House of Commons Library and its research service produce.

Research briefings can also be searched on the UK Parliament website by date and subject and also by topic.


Hannah Chandler, Official Papers Librarian, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford

Deposited Papers in the House of Commons Library


It may not be immediately obvious, but the following all have something in common:

  • A report inquiring into allegations that the East India company interfered in the payment of debt from the Rajah of Travancore, deposited in 1832;
  • An Order in Council providing for the constitution of a legislative council for the Island of Ceylon from 1923;
  • A list of British prisoners of war detained in Spain during the Spanish Civil War from 1938;
  • Photographs of the atrocities committed by Mau Mau raiders in Kenya from 1952;
  • Papers relating to the Hillsborough disaster (deposited in 1990); and
  • The Triennial review of UK Sport and Sport England from 2015.

They are all Deposited Papers; that is, papers deposited in the House of Commons and House of Lords Libraries by Ministers, the Commons Speaker or the Lord Speaker. They are usually deposited either in response to a question from a Member, or for their information. See for example this answer to a Parliamentary question on 1 July 2015 :

Prisoners: Veterans: Written question 3741   

Jim Shannon:

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what support is available to former service personnel diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder who have been sentenced to prison.

Andrew Selous:

Prisoners in England are entitled to receive NHS healthcare treatments equivalent to those received by people in the community. NHS treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is provided according to clinical need and informed by best practice guidelines. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides detailed guidance (NICE Clinical Guideline 26) on treating PTSD, which NHS health professionals are expected to take into account when deciding best practice, or which treatment to provide. NICE Clinical Guideline 26 applies to prisoners and people in the community, including former service personnel. A copy of NICE Clinical Guideline 26 has been placed in the Library.

The NICE guideline mentioned then became Deposited Paper 2015-0545.

In order to deposit a document the relevant Government department responsible emails a copy to the House of Commons Library. There must be a formal commitment to deposit so that the collection is not used as a place to send any document a department thinks might want to be seen by Members (eg. press notices or circulars). The Commons Library uploads the document on to the Deposited Papers database (although it is not live at this point). It is then indexed by colleagues in the House of Lords Library, at which point it goes live and is available publicly.

The collection itself started in 1832 with the East India Company report mentioned above. The next deposit was not until 1845, but since then thousands of documents have been placed in the Library, ranging from statistical tables, research reports which were not otherwise published, consultation documents and Government promotional material to large collections of papers such as the papers relating to the Hillsborough disaster (also located in Liverpool Library and available online).

Each deposit received until 1999 was recorded in a hard copy register. They were numbered in three sequences until April 1998 (the Old Series, 1832 to 1983; the New series (1983-1994), and the Third series (1994-1998)), since when they have been numbered by calendar year. Since 2007, all deposits have been available online through a database on the Parliamentary website, and the database also provides a reference to all deposits since 1988. The database is a single collection shared by the House of Commons and House of Lords Libraries, whereas previously the House of Lords Library maintained a separate parallel collection. Overall, there are close to 100,000 documents in the full sequence.

The public have ongoing access to the deposited papers collection through the online database, but the older hard copies can often also be accessed. As the House of Commons Library is private to Members of Parliament requests should be made to the Parliamentary Archives, who will contact the Library and arrange for a copy to be made available in the archives search rooms. Anything pre-1988 is harder to find, but advice can be sought from the Archives.

Although many Deposited Papers have been formally published, many of them were not. The variety and richness of the subjects covered make this an invaluable collection for practitioners in the official publications field, as well as researchers and the general public.

For further information, see the Deposited Papers pages on the Parliamentary website.

Chris Sear, Head of Customer Service, House of Commons Library







Key issues for the 2015 Parliament

Written for Members of Parliament by House of Commons Library researchers but useful to everyone interested in current topics of the day.  ‘Key issues for the 2015 Parliament‘ gives a description of the major issues facing Parliament with details of further reading.

Hannah Chandler, Official Papers Librarian, Bodleian Libraries