Parliamentary publications in the Barr Smith Library
Included in this list are the parliamentary debates, journals, votes, proceedings and papers, etc. of the Australian and British parliaments, of which we have strong holdings, as well as the equivalent publications of some other countries.
Please note that in general, Acts, Statutes and Bills are not kept in the Barr Smith Library but are shelved in the Law Library.
Some titles in this list are available only on microfilm or microfiche. This material is available by request via the library catalogue.
Glossary of Parliamentary terminologyReference collection: The Parliamentary vocab.: 500 parliamentary terms and their meanings. 1987. [Reference 328.94 A938p]
- A Bill that has passed through all stages in both Houses of Parliament and which has received Royal Assent (through the Governor-General in Australia), becomes an Act, and then becomes law. In legal terms, Acts of Parliament are known as Statutes.
Note that in the University of Adelaide Libraries system Bills and Acts (Statutes) are kept in the Law Library.
- A draft of a proposed piece of legislation. A Bill that has passed through all stages in both Houses of Parliament and which has received Royal Assent, becomes an Act, and then becomes law.
At the end of each session British bills are collocated alphabetically by title in the Sessional papers.
Sometimes a British Bill is defeated, or is dropped because of insufficient time to debate it. At the end of each session a House paper lists all the Bills and shows the fate of each Bill that did not receive Royal Assent.
- Command paper
- Command papers are laid before the British Parliament not at its own request but by command of the crown It is a purely technical device used by ministers to introduce documents to Parliament which did not have their origin there. They can be presented to Parliament when Parliament is not sitting.
About half of the Command papers in each session are State papers presented by the Foreign Office. Many of the other Command papers are statements of firm government policy to allow discussion and debate on a topic before legislation is introduced, generally known as White papers.
Command papers are not numbered by session, but in five series beginning in 1833. Each series has a prefixing abbreviation which must be included in any citation:
1833-1869 (1)-(4222) [numbers were not printed on the papers]
1870-1899 c.1 - c.9550
1900-1918 Cd.1 - Cd.9239
1919-1956 Cmd.1 - Cmd.9889
1956- Cmnd.1 -
- A group of members appointed to supervise certain functions of Parliament or to make investigations on legislation or other matters. Each House may appoint committees or there can be joint committees with members from both houses.
- A record of what is said in Parliament. Besides speeches given in debate, they also include written and spoken questions and their answers and also give lists of divisions.
Official and unofficial records of British parliamentary debates, diaries and proceedings are listed in a separate section of this finding list.
The correct citation for a British debate is:
example: 213 HC 5s. 8 Feb. 1928 Col.136
[See also under Hansard].
- Green paper
- A paper presenting tentative proposals on an important topic (e.g. unemployment, health services) presented to the Australian or British Parliament by the Cabinet or a Minister, to stimulate debate and public discussion.
- The colloquial name by which parliamentary debates are commonly known, in both Britain and Australia.
- House papers
- In the British Parliament there are three groups: returns (papers which Parliament requires from Government departments), reports of House committees and Act papers (those papers which an Act of Parliament has required to be laid before the Parliament. House papers include the annual reports of nationalised industries and other official bodies, reports of Select and Standing Committees of the House, and departmental accounts and reports.
House papers are numbered by session, with an arabic number in the bottom left hand corner of the title page.
- In British practice the Journals of the House of Commons, published sessionally, are the permanent official records of the House. In modern times the Journals are made up largely from the Votes and Proceedings.
The Journals of the House of Lords, dating from 1509, are similar in form to those of the Commons.
The proceedings of the Australian Upper House, the Senate, are published in its Journals; the term is also used for the proceedings of some Australian state parliaments.
- The time Parliament sits. In Britain sessions usually run from November to the following October. A general election concludes the final session of a parliament, and a new Parliament begins the next session.
In Australia a session begins when the Governor-General by proclamation fixes a date and time for the meeting of Parliament and ends when Parliament is prorogued or the House of Representatives is dissolved or expires in time. There may be adjournments of the House for many months without bringing the session to an end, but there must be a session of Parliament at least once every year.
- Sessional papers
- Papers used in the British Parliament in its everyday business. There are two sets, one each for Lords and Commons. The Commons papers are by far the more important; usually any important papers introduced in the Lords are transmitted to the Commons.
There are three types: Bills, Command papers and House papers. Please refer to the individual descriptions under these headings in the glossary.
Citation of Sessional Papers should follow the form:
Title & description/Session/Paper number/Volume number/Volume page number
example: Game Laws: Select Committee Report, 1845 (602) xii, 331.
Note that the page reference is always to the page number of the volume in the sessional papers, not to the page number of the report itself.
- The written law of a legislative body -- the Acts of a Parliament.
- Votes and Proceedings
- In the British context these are a provisional record of the work of the House of Commons and are issued daily during sessions. Together with the Order paper and the Division list, they are usually referred to as the 'blue paper' (so named because some of the items are printed on blue tinted paper). They are not normally kept by libraries since the useful information they contain is to be found in the more formal and permanent records, the Debates (Hansard) and the Journals.
In the Australian context, Votes and Proceedings is the term used for the printed records of the business of the federal House of Representatives; it is also used by the state parliaments of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. Other terms you may come across, used for this purpose, are Proceedings and Minutes of Proceedings.
- White paper
- A name given to a policy document presented by the British government to parliament, usually as a Command paper, to allow discussion and debate on a topic before legislation is introduced. The term is not much used in the Australian context.