Locating the documents in the library

The Ford Collection of British Official Publications is situated on Level 3 of the Hartley Library. Our collection is one of the best in the country. The bulk of the collection begins at 1800 but in some cases we have earlier documents.

Due to space constraints not all of the documents are on the open shelves. Papers prior to 1922 as well as House of Commons and House of Lords Journals are kept in a closed stack. If you require access to an early document please contact either 023 8059 3451 or 023 8059 3220, alternatively email libenqs@soton.ac.uk or Joy Caisley jc5@soton.ac.uk

The material on the open shelves, post 1922, can be found at the left hand end of Level 3 opposite study rooms 3e/f. The ranges have codes attached and notices on the end of each range identify each sequence.

The Library has holdings of many print copies but some are available electronically. If available in electronic form the links appear below.

House of Commons Papers, Bills and Command papers.

These are found at range codes 21C - 23B. They are written reports which include those from Committees, Official reports from Government Bodies and many annual reports. Command Papers include white papers which are statements of Government policy.

In order to locate any of these documents it would be necessary to know the session within which they were published and the paper number.

The full text of many recent parliamentary publications is now also available via the internet. For example, Bills and Select Committee Reports from both Houses, Commons and Lords.

Please note: All House of Lords Papers are sited in the rolling stack on Level 3 of the Hartley Library. The collection is not complete.

A very helpful resource is House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP).

This database indexes official documents from 1688 - 2004/5.

It includes over 200,000 House of Commons sessional papers from 1715 to the present, with supplementary material back to 1688. HCPP delivers page images and searchable full text for each paper, along with detailed indexing. This is a remarkable primary source for those studying and researching constitutional, legal, economic, social, military, and diplomatic history.

The online service complements the Hartley Library's Ford Collection, where we are privileged to house one of the leading collections of British Official Publications in the United Kingdom.

On campus House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP)

Off campus House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP) (only accessible off campus with a University of Southampton login)

Non-Parliamentary publications.

These are located at range codes 18C - 19D. These are documents published for Government departments by HMSO/TSO and by the departments themselves. Arranged by year of publication and thereafter alphabetically by department. We have a few documents dating back to the 1890's and the collection is still expanding.

Commons and Lords Hansard

These are at range codes 20B - 21B.

Sometimes called the Official Report, Hansard is a near verbatim record of the debates within both Houses of the Palace of Westminster and related material. They are shelved in date order.

Full text electronic access:

For early debates see: Hansard 1803-2005 

Additional material available electronically:

The Weekly Information Bulletin is a publication which provides you with a weekly update as to what has been debated in Parliament. Full references are provided for each publication.

And Research Papers from the House of Commons Library. These publications accompany every Government bill produced. They give an unbiased account of all issues related to a specific bill. The content includes the reason why the bill has been produced, the expected outcome on enactment and indepth analysis.

For the full range of information and documents available, see Parliament's World Wide Web Service:

Justis Parliament is an extensive index to the proceedings and publications of the Houses of Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies.

Acts and Statutory Instruments are on level 3 with the rest of the law materials. You can also access the full text of Acts (from 1988-) and SIs (from 1987-) by clicking on the relevant heading below.

A recent addition to aid in legal related research is the Statute Law Database: an official, authoritative online database of revised UK primary legislation available free of charge to the public. The Statute Law Database is easy-to-use and covers an extensive period.


Most statistical publications, including Census reports, are on level 3 in the Statistical Sources section. These are listed on the library's catalogue. The Office for National Statistics website is an excellent starting point for recent information.

A number of government departments now add statistical data to their internet sites One of the easiest ways to link to government departments' internet sites is via DirectGov, the official link to government information and services.