Errors in parliamentary papers are rare but there are services available to help correct a document appropriately.
If an error or omission is noticed after a parliamentary paper has been laid, government organisations need to contact the Journal Office and the PVP contractor as a matter of urgency.
Organisations with parent departments must also inform their parent departments of errors or omissions contained within laid documents. As a published paper must be the same as its laid version, organisations must not amend the online version without publishing a correction slip.
An amendment can be included in several ways, depending on the change required:
- a correction slip (sometimes known as an erratum slip)
- withdrawing and re-laying the paper
Any of these options may involve additional cost. Where possible, to minimise the cost, corrections should be dealt with before print copies are despatched to Parliament or stakeholders.
‘Stickering’ can take place if a minor error is identified after a document has been professionally printed, but generally prior to it being laid.
If this is the case, the print copies (including the laid copies and those to be distributed on publication, where not already despatched from the contractor) should have a sticker with the correct text placed over the erroneous text.
The online versions of the document including web-optimised PDFs and print-ready PDFs should also be corrected before publication.
Correction slips should be used where an error or omission is noticed after laying has taken place. Correction slips should be issued to the Vote Office in the House of Commons and Printed Paper Office in the House of Lords and will include information related to the publication being corrected, and state the text that is being corrected. Correction slips are usually used to correct typographical errors rather than factual inaccuracies.
To ensure correction slips include the relevant publishing information, The National Archives provides correction slip templates for House of Commons and Command Papers ready for organisations to complete. Examples of filled out correction slips are also available. Blank templates can also be obtained from the PVP contractor. Organisations must obtain Journal Office approval before correction slips are distributed in print or online.
Organisations must also ensure that the correction slip is uploaded where the paper is published online, including GOV.UK. We recommend that organisations embed correction slips in papers’ web and print PDFs to ensure that the corrected information is not missed by users. Organisations will also need to indicate that the content of the PDFs has been updated through the ‘public change note’ on the document’s page GOV.UK.
Organisations must also ensure that printed correction slips are sent to Parliament. The PVP contractor provides services to government organisations to ensure that this distribution and the issuing of updated bibliographic data takes place. Organisations should also ensure that correction slips are sent to stakeholders provided previously with print copies to ensure clarity on the document’s final content.
House of Commons Paper correction slip template (DOC, 0.02 MB)
Command Paper correction slip template (DOC, 0.02 MB)
Examples of completed correction slips (PDF, 0.08 MB)
Withdrawing and re-laying a paper
If the error or omission is significant, it may be necessary to withdraw and re-lay a new version of the paper.
If the decision is taken to re-lay a withdrawn paper, government organisations should ensure that the re-laid version has a new set of ISBNs. If a Command Paper is withdrawn and re-laid, then government organisations should request a new Command Paper number from The National Archives as well. If a House of Commons Paper has been withdrawn and re-laid, then the Journal Office should be consulted on whether a new HC number is required.
The application of new ISBNs and paper number will help users to distinguish between the different versions of the paper.
In addition, a re-laid version of a paper should contain additional text on the title page explaining briefly that it is a new version of a previously laid and withdrawn document.
The PVP contract provides services to support this process, including replacement bibliographic data and legal deposit arrangements.
If it is decided to withdraw a paper without re-laying another version the PVP contract provides services to securely pulp any remaining printed copies of the withdrawn paper and to cancel previously issued bibliographic data.
Costs to correct a paper
If the error is the fault of the government organisation, it will be liable for any additional costs involved. If the error is the fault of a supplier then it will be liable for the costs involved.
It is the responsibility of the authoring organisation to check the final proof of a paper and approve it for laying and publication.