Preparing parliamentary papers for publication

The National Archives is responsible for ensuring that services to produce documents for publication are available to government organisations. These services are currently provided through the cross-government Print Vendor Partner Contract (PVP) let to the Williams Lea Group and managed by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS). To access PVP contract services for parliamentary papers, organisations must formally join the PVP contract if they have not done so already. This is a brief administrative process facilitated by the CCS. For further information on the process please contact a CCS Print Category representative or email well in advance of using contract services for the first time. Please also contact the CCS with any queries about the PVP contract’s fees and charges.

With some exceptions it is possible to use as many, or as few, of the services offered under the contract as necessary. In line with CCS requirements, it is possible to continue to use in-house services or purchase services such as design, typesetting and/or print services elsewhere and combine them with the PVP contract’s services.

Command and House of Commons Papers must be published online on GOV.UK immediately after laying. If an organisation has its own website it may publish the document on there as well. Print copies of Command and House of Commons Papers must still be produced for laying, statutory legal deposit and any other requirements set by HM Treasury, organisations’ parent departments, or select committees.

Where the PVP contract has been used by an organisation to print their documents, the contractor will produce printed copies for Members of Parliament at no cost to the organisation. If the PVP contract is not used for print copies organisations must supply their document’s print copies to the contractor for onward delivery into Parliament and to legal deposit libraries. In such cases, please liaise with the contractor at the earliest opportunity to ensure the document includes the required publication furniture and that up-to-date delivery information is obtained. See the ‘distribution-only’ option for further information on the steps required when the contractor’s print services are not being used.

The PVP contractor will provide production and distribution services to ensure that the official versions of parliamentary papers are produced to standard. The distribution services must be used for House of Command and Command Papers. The services are optional for un-numbered Act Papers and un-numbered Command Papers but organisations may find the additional support useful.

The production and distribution services include:

  • expert advice about papers’ production and distribution specifications and processes
  • provision of quotations and timelines
  • provision and assurance of publication furniture including web and print ISBNs, and Crown copyright statements
  • publication furniture proofing
  • managing proofing and sign-off of content (if using PVP print services)
  • demand management of print copy quantities
  • print management (if using PVP print services)
  • provision of copies of print-ready PDFs and web-optimised PDFs (if using PVP print services)
  • online notification of laid papers through the Journal Office System
  • facilitation of the delivery of print copies for Parliament
  • bibliographic and information services
  • delivery of one print copy to each of the six Legal Deposit Libraries
  • delivery of one print copy to The National Archives
  • facilitation of three print copies for the contractor
  • access to other services, such as reprints and services to correct papers

The ‘distribution-only’ option

If an organisation has not used the contractor’s services to produce and print its document, it will be necessary to use the PVP contract’s distribution-only option which includes the relevant services above.

Organisations using this option will need to contact the contractor to:

  • obtain and check the inclusion of print and web ISBNs and print barcode
  • check the inclusion of the most up to date Crown copyright and re-use statement if applicable
  • ascertain the quantities of print copies to be delivered to the contractor
  • ascertain the date and time print copies should be delivered, generally on the working day before laying
  • obtain labelling, packing and delivery instructions
  • deliver appropriately labelled and packaged print copies to the contractor

Checking that a paper has been laid

Please note that publication or distribution of digital or hard copies of a document before it has been laid before Parliament is considered discourteous. This applies to both Command and House of Commons Papers. Securely wrapped hard copies may be distributed under embargo before a document is laid, however the copies must not be unwrapped until after laying has taken place.

Please liaise with departmental parliamentary clerks to ensure that laying has taken place before publication. In addition, notification of laying is available through the Journal Office System. Organisations can also confirm the laying of documents by referring to the Votes and Proceedings for the day on which the document was due to be laid in the House of Commons. The Votes and Proceedings can be found on Parliament’s website:

Publishing parliamentary papers

The versions published online must be exactly the same as the laid version.

After a Command, House of Commons or un-numbered Act Paper has been laid it must be published on GOV.UK immediately unless publication has been timed to coincide with a major announcement or launch.

The GOV.UK publication requirement applies to papers published by specified organisations. In the context of GOV.UK, Command, House of Commons and un-numbered Act Papers are referred to as ‘official documents’. Some organisations may need to liaise with their parent department (if applicable) to facilitate GOV.UK publication.

The documents’ web-optimised PDF and print-ready PDF need to be published on GOV.UK. Web-optimised PDFs should meet Government Digital Service guidelines on creating accessible PDFs. For a fee, the PVP contractor and other suppliers can provide services to create an accessible PDF.

Organisations will need to obtain print-ready PDFs from their printer. The publication of the print-ready PDFs will allow any supplier wishing to sell professionally printed copies to the public to do so.  There is no official contracted print publisher, although organisations will be able to purchase print copies to give their stakeholders or to use at press launches as usual.

Organisations should time the receipt of documents’ final web-optimised PDFs and print-ready PDFs so that GOV.UK publication can take place promptly after laying (but not before). It is strongly suggested that both web PDFs and print PDFs are received before laying to expedite publication.

Parliamentary papers PDFs published on GOV.UK need to include specific metadata. Including the correct metadata, as advised by Government Digital Service, will ensure that your document can be found by GOV.UK’s search functionality for official documents.

The web-optimised PDF metadata includes the document’s web ISBN, HC number/Parliamentary Session or Command Paper number (where appropriate), and this link – – in the ‘Order a copy’ field, with the price field left blank.

Print PDFs of Official Documents uploaded to GOV.UK should include the document’s title in the relevant metadata field with ‘(print-ready PDF)’ inserted after the title. Organisations should also ensure that the print ISBN and HC number/Parliamentary Session or Command Paper number are included in the relevant fields as well. It is suggested that the print PDF appears underneath the web-optimised version. Further information for on the metadata to be added can be found in the GOV.UK Publisher Manual.

The inclusion of the correct publication metadata will ensure that Command and House of Commons Papers are included in the dedicated search facility for official documents. Publication metadata, such as the ISBN, HC number or Command Paper number are unique to individual publications. This information is used by researchers, students and librarians to identify specific publications, therefore it is important that it is included with every document published on GOV.UK.

When uploading House of Commons Papers please ensure that the correct Parliamentary Session is added. For annual report and accounts, the Session that a document is laid in will not always be the same as the financial year or period that the report covers. If there is any doubt consult your organisation’s parliamentary unit or check the Parliamentary recess dates at

These documents may also be published in on GOV.UK in additional formats and on organisations own websites, where they exist.

If a paper has been distributed through the PVP contract, bibliographic information about the document will be available to users and statutory legal deposit (in print) will be undertaken on the organisation’s behalf.

GOV.UK exceptions

Print-ready PDFs do not need to be uploaded to GOV.UK for un-numbered Act or un-numbered Command Papers. However, if these PDFs are available please consider whether their inclusion would be helpful for end users.

A few organisations which produce House of Commons and un-numbered Act Papers should not publish documents on GOV.UK. This is because in the context of GOV.UK, they are not considered to be government organisations. These organisations are: the National Audit Office, Electoral Commission, Local Government Boundary Commission England, Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, House of Commons, House of Lords and the medical professional bodies overseen by the Privy Council Office.

Instead, these organisations should ensure that their papers are published on their own corporate websites, ensuring that papers’ copyright statements refer availability on their own website instead of referencing GOV.UK.

Additional publishing information for un-numbered Act and un-numbered Command Papers

If the PVP contract’s production and/or distribution services are not used, please ensure that the correct copyright and re-use statement is included on page 2 and that statutory legal deposit (in print) is undertaken.

Please see the Journal Office guidance for other information relating to un-numbered Act Papers.

Publication and the evolution of policy

Command and House of Commons papers must be published on GOV.UK. Information included when the documents are uploaded will ensure that users will be able to search for documents across the entire body of papers.

As policies and priorities change, previously published Command or House of Commons papers may be superseded.

Organisations should never remove superseded documents from GOV.UK. This will render the paper unsearchable. If you are considering removal because a policy is no longer being pursued and the document is included with other documents that do reflect current policy, you should create a separate GOV.UK page for the non current paper. This will allow organisations to indicate that the document’s contents are not current but will ensure that users can still access the information.