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British Parliamentary Papers


(see also publication on Command Papers from the House of Commons Information Office)

"Command Papers are papers of interest to Parliament where presentation to Parliament is not required by statute. The subjects may be major policy proposals (White Papers) and consultation documents (Green Papers), diplomatic documents such as treaties, Government responses to Select Committee reports, reports of major committees of inquiry or certain departmental reports or reviews". (Office of Public Sector Information, National Archives, Great Britain)

Command Papers do not originate from Parliament itself, but are presented to both Houses of Parliament by governmental ministers, by "Command of Her (or His) Majesty". During the late 1800s, the House of Lords began eliminating the Command papers from its sessional papers. Beginning in 1900, the Command papers are found only in the House of Commons volumes. See also full-text online Command Papers from 1997 - present.

Command Papers numbering series.

First series [1]-[4222] 1833-1869
Second series [C. 1]-[C. 9550] 1870-1899
Third series [Cd. 1]-[Cd. 9239] 1900-1918
Fourth series [Cmd.1]-Cmd. 9889 1919-1956
Fifth series Cmnd. 1- 1956-


Example of a citation of a command paper:  
Finance and Industry. Committee Report 1930-31. Cmd. 3897.

To locate this command paper in the sessional papers you would consult the Numerical Finding List of British Command Papers... title listed below to translate the citation into a full reference: (where xiii is the volume number and 219 the page number within volume xiii):  Finance and Industry. Committee Report 1930-31 Cmd. 3897, xii, 219.

Holdings and Finding Aids at UVA Library

British Sessional Papers. House of Commons, Micprnt S-1
Library has: 1901-1978/79 in Ivy Annex

Finding Aid: General index to the Bills, reports and papers printed by order of the House of Commons and to the reports and Papers presented by command, 1900 to 1948-49, J301 .K61 1900-1948/49, Microforms Guides Area, 3rd floor, Alderman Library  

British Parliamentary Papers. House of Commons Sessional Papers, Micfich S-424
Library has: 1760-1900 and 1979-2007/2008 - Alderman Library Microforms, 3rd floor east 

Finding Aid: General index to the bills, reports, estimates, accounts and papers printed by order of the House of Commons, J 301 .K611 for 1852/1869-1890/1899; 1950/1958-1968/69 in Alderman Stacks.

                   Note: A small selection of Command Papers are available at UVA in print. Do a VIRGO Advanced search to retrieve the titles.
great britain parliament papers by command in the series box.

Finding Aid:

A Numerical Finding List of British Command Papers Published 1833-1961/62,
Alderman Stacks and Alderman Microforms Guides Area, Z2009 .D5

Provides the session, volume, and starting page for each Command paper number within the given time period. 


Holdings and Finding Aids