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Government publications are primary sources of information for many subject areas. This guide will help you trace UK Government publications both in the Library and on the Web. You may find this A-Z glossary of key parliamentary terms helpful for understanding the role of specific kinds of publications. Although this guide focuses primarily on UK Government publications, it also includes some guidance on tracing EU, US and international sources. For guidance on how to reference government publications, check Cite Them Right Online.
See below for guidance on finding specific types of publication.
An Act of Parliament is a law, enforced in all areas of the UK where it is applicable. More about Acts (UK Parliament guide)
Statutory Instruments (SIs) are government orders or regulations made by a Minister under the authority of a specific Act [ Parliament glossary]
For further help, see the Library Guide to English Law ( PDF)
A Bill is a draft law; it becomes an Act if it is approved by a majority in the House of Commons and House of Lords, and formally agreed to by the reigning monarch (known as Royal Assent). More about Bills (UK Parliament guide).
Government publications presented to Parliament are known as Command Papers. Most but not all Command Papers are published in a numbered series. More about Command Papers (UK Parliament guide)
A consultation paper is a policy document that is put out by the Government for public comment and feedback. The UK Government website has a list of All current consultations
The full text of White Papers and Green Papers are available on the web sites of the Government Departments publishing them.
The Library also holds a number of consultation documents or papers. A keyword search using LibrarySearch for consultation document and your chosen topic, e.g 'planning consultation documents' will find all relevant items. To ensure you find all relevant items, do an additional search for 'planning consultation paper'
Select committees are small groups of MPs or members of the House of Lords that are set up to investigate a specific issue in detail or to perform a specific scrutiny role. They may call in officials and experts for questioning and can demand information from the government. Select committees publish their findings in a report and the government is expected to respond to any recommendations that are made [Parliament glossary]
Newspapers can provide relevant, up-to-date information on government issues, policies, reports and legislation. The Library's News and current affairs guide helps you trace information from newspapers.
Europa: the official web site of the European Union includes news, official documents, statistics. The following sections may be useful: