How to look for records of... Parliament

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

How many are online?

  • Some

This guide will help you to locate records of UK Parliament, including records of legislation. The National Archives is the place of deposit for records created by UK central government departments and law courts but not, generally speaking, for records created by the Houses of Parliament.

The best place to start your research is at the Parliamentary Archives. However, there are some parliamentary records, private and public acts and statutory instruments held at The National Archives.

What do I need to know before I start?

The records held at the Parliamentary Archives are usually referred to as Parliamentary Papers. Parliamentary Papers refers to a number of different types of documents, including:

  • Accounts of debates in the House of Commons and House of Lords
  • Command Papers
  • Act Papers
  • Records produced by Parliamentary committees
  • Deposited papers

In general, The National Archives may hold the documentation which contributed to the creation of Command Papers, Deposited Papers and some other Parliamentary Papers but the final versions are usually held at the Parliamentary Archives. Almost all the original records of the House of Commons were lost in the fire that destroyed the building in 1834.

Records of Parliament also include records of legislation:

  • Acts of Parliament
  • Statutory instruments

Original Acts of Parliament from 1497 are held at the Parliamentary Archives, earlier records are at The National Archives but all current legislation is published online at There are two types of Parliamentary Acts, public and private. A public act enshrines a piece of legislation as national law, whilst a private act is applicable only in a more particular, sometimes local, set of circumstances. Private Acts of Parliament were not necessarily printed and published and are only available, therefore, from the Parliamentary Archives.

Online records

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 1715–2015

Search the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers on the UK Parliamentary Papers website (institutional subscription required; free access on site at The National Archives in Kew) for accounts of debates in the House of Commons or Command Papers. Search by keyword, date and/or paper number.

House of Lords Parliamentary Papers, 1714-1911

Search the House of Lords Parliamentary Papers on the UK Parliamentary Papers website (institutional subscription required) for accounts of debates in the House of Lords.

UK legislation, 1267–present

Search for legislation still in force in the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on, the UK’s official legislation website. Read the help section for more information about what it contains.

Public Acts of Parliament, 1801–present

Search on by date for Public General Acts of Parliament as they were originally enacted. There are full text versions of all Public General Acts from 1988 and Local Acts from 1991, and digitised versions of some Acts from 1801.

Acts of Parliament and other legislation, 1235–present

Search the VLex Justis Publishing website  (institutional subscription required; free access on site at The National Archives, Kew) for General Acts of Parliament from 1235, Local Acts of Parliament from 1797 and statutory instruments from 1949.

Parliament Rolls, 1275–1504

The rolls of parliament were the official records of the meetings of parliament, containing the principal decisions taken and acts passed, along with procedural material, compiled by the clerk of the Parliaments after the end of the assembly.

Search for transcriptions and translations of medieval Parliament Rolls, from 1275 to 1504, on the British History Online website (institutional subscription required; free access on site at The National Archives in Kew). The original rolls are held at The National Archives, primarily in series SC 9 and C 65.

Records available only at The National Archives in Kew

To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).

Parliament Rolls, 1289–2010

Transcriptions and translations of medieval Parliament Rolls, from 1275 to 1504, have been published on the British History Online website, as described in the section above. The original rolls are still available to view in our reading rooms at Kew, as are another 500 years of rolls, unavailable online, up to 2010.

Browse our catalogue for Parliament Rolls between 1289 and 1322 in SC 9, and search by year in C 65 for rolls between 1327 and 2010. Most of the medieval and early modern rolls are in Latin, Anglo-Norman or Medieval French.

Local statutory rules and instruments, 1922–2006

Search TS 37 by statutory instrument number and year. If you do not know the number use the registers in TS 76 (1892–1998). For further information on statutory instruments see our Privy Council guide and the help section of


Please note, it is best to start your search at the appropriate local record office as the sealed copy of confirmed local authority byelaws was usually returned to the responsible local authority.

A second copy was usually retained in the confirming government department. Most of these second copies are in HLG 25 (1872-1977) . Alternatively search by keyword ‘byelaw’ or ‘bye law’ within department codes such as ED, MT and HO.

Other online and printed resources

Hansard (reports of Parliamentary debates)

Hansard is a series of publications containing largely verbatim reports of what is said in Parliament. It also reports decisions taken during a sitting and records how Members voted to reach those decisions in Divisions. Each House of Parliament has its own publications.

Search online for the official reports of all parliamentary debates, both in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, from 1803 onwards. You can search by date and keyword. Not all debates have been transcribed yet so you may find a reference to printed versions.

Newspaper accounts of Parliamentary debates

Search The Times Archive and Guardian and Observer Digital Archive to view articles (£) about Parliamentary proceedings.

House of Commons and House of Lords journals

Search British History Online for the Journals of the House of Lords, Journals of the House of Commons and other parliamentary material from 1509 to 1834.

History of Parliament website

Consult the History of Parliament website for a comprehensive account of parliamentary politics in England, then Britain, from their origins in the 13th century.


Find bound volumes of legislation at the British Library.

Consult The House of Commons series (History of Parliament Trust, 1964 onwards).

Read A Short Guide to the Records of Parliament by Maurice Bond (House of Lords Records Office, 1980).