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About Official Documents

Official Documents is the official reference facility for Command Papers, House of Commons Papers and key Departmental papers.

Command Papers

Command Papers derive their name from the fact that a Government minister presents them to Parliament "by Command of Her Majesty". The Papers are numbered consecutively and the current series takes the prefix Cm.

The titles which form this series of publications are often described as "White" or "Green" Papers but these expressions have no formal definition. Over the years it has become accepted that White Papers are statements of Government policy whereas Green Papers are proposals which are published as an aid to public debate.

This series also contains the numerous treaties to which the UK is a party, formal Government responses to Select Committee reports and many of the reports emerging from Committees of Inquiry and Departmental Reviews. These may be of national significance (such as The MacPherson Inquiry following the murder of Stephen Lawrence) or have great impact on the work of Government bodies (such as the review of the Crown Prosecution Service undertaken by Sir Iain Glidewell).

House of Commons Papers

House of Commons Papers (HCPs) are a large and varied body of documents, many of which have familiar titles, although few appreciate that they form part of this series. They are numbered consecutively in a series which starts with each new Parliamentary session.

For example, No 0936 is an HCP from March 2006, and No 0001 is an HCP from June 2005 (towards the beginning of the Parliamentary session).

Using this website you can access the text of those HCPs which originate in Government departments. Many of these are annual reports and accounts concerning a wide range of public bodies, including virtually every executive agency. This series also includes the reports emerging from investigations undertaken by the head of the National Audit Office (the Comptroller and Auditor General) and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

For procedural reasons a number of reports from major inquiries are also published in this series, including The Report of the Inquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Dr David Kelly CMG (more commonly known as the Hutton Report).

This series also includes the many publications associated with Select Committees in the House of Commons. You can access the text of these titles, along with items such as The Register of Members' Interests from the parliamentary website at www.parliament.uk.

Other Papers

Other important papers sponsored by Government departments are classified as "Other Papers". For instance, The Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools 2003/04, sponsored by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, is included here.

Official Documents Archives

Selected Command and House papers from 1994 to April 2005 were previously available on two separate, archive websites. To simplify matters, we have expanded the Advanced Search on this website to include these papers. Simply use the advanced seach as normal, and select the "1994 to April 2005 Results" to access the archive material.

If you are unable to locate a paper published before this date using this search functionality, please contact TSO Bookshop to purchase a copy or check with a Legal Deposit library such as the British Library.


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