Parliamentary Resources

The following are links to resources which may be of interest to anyone doing research on various aspects of parliamentary government, procedure and related topics. This is a work in progress; the list is not exhaustive and will be regularly updated whenever I come across something worth adding to the list. If you know of a resource not included below that you think should be added to this list, please share it with me via the contact page.

PARLIAMENT WEBSITES

Parliament of Australia

Parliament of Canada

Parliament of New Zealand

Parliament of the United Kingdom

PROCEDURE MANUALS

The “bible” of Westminster parliamentary procedure is of course Eskine May’s Treatise on The Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament, more commonly abbreviated to “Erskine May” or even simply “May”. Now in its 24th edition, this is the manual which outlines parliamentary procedure as practised in the UK House of Commons and the Lords. Unfortunately, it is not available in an online format. If you’re absolutely desperate to own a copy, however, you can buy one here. Or, if you’re simply curious, you can access the very first edition (1844) online here.

Procedure manuals from other jurisdictions are available online, however:

House of Commons Canada: House of Commons Procedure and Practice (or “O’Brien and Bosc” to geeks), which is also available en français.

Quebec National Assembly: La procédure parlementaire du Québec, 3e édition. Also available in English.

House of Representatives Australia: House of Representatives Practice, 6th edition. You can also access the previous editions (1-5) here.

Senate Australia: Odgers’ Australian Senate Practice, 13th edition. Also available for download as an epub.

New Zealand House of Representatives: Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand, 3rd edition. Commonly referred to as “McGee”.

STANDING ORDERS

Canada House of Commons Standing Orders and the Annotated Standing Orders. The Annotated Standing Orders provide an explanation of each rule and and in many cases also provides an historical overview of how the rule evolved over time or why it was introduced in the first place.

Canada Rules of the Senate, and Companion to the Rules of the Senate

UK House of Commons Standing Orders

UK Companion to the Standing Orders and Guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords

Australia House of Representatives Standing Orders

Australia Senate Standing Orders, and the Annotated Standing Orders of the Senate

New Zealand House of Representatives Standing Orders

OTHER PROCEDURAL RESOURCES

Canada

If you don’t want the level of detail found in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, the Compendium of Procedure provides a more accessible overview of the workings of the House of Commons and its committees.

ParlInfo provides a wealth of statistical information about parliament, MPs, elections and much, much more.

UK

House of Commons Background Papers: Detailed background papers on aspects of Parliamentary procedure and practice produced by the Parliament and Constitution Centre, part of the House of Commons Library.

Select Committee Reports: A number of select committees of the House of Commons and the House of Lords conduct inquiries into various aspects of procedure and related matters, and recommend ways to improve how the business of each House is conducted.

  1. The House of Commons Procedure Committee: This committee considers the practice and procedure of the House in the conduct of public business. You can search the list of current and former inquiries conducted in the current (2010-15) Parliament here. The list of publications produced by the committee in the current Parliament can be searched here. You will see on that page (and in the menu on the left) a link to publications from previous Parliaments going back to the 1997-98 session.
  2. The House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee: This committee, established in 2010, considers political and constitutional reform. You can search the list of current and former inquiries conducted in the current (2010-15) Parliament here. The list of publications produced by the committee in the current Parliament can be searched here. As the committee was established at the start of the 2010-15 Parliament, there are no publications from previous Parliaments.
  3. The House of Lords Procedure Committee: This committee considers any proposal to change the procedures of the House of Lords, and makes recommendations to the House as a whole. The committee also approves the text of The Companion to Standing Orders, which is the authoritative guide to the House’s procedures. The list of publications produced by the committee in the current Parliament can be searched here. You will see on that page (and in the menu on the left) a link to publications from previous Parliaments going back to the 1997-98 session.
  4. The House of Lords Constitution Committee: This committee undertakes investigative inquiries into wider constitutional issues and publishes a report with recommendations aimed principally at the Government. It also examines all Public Bills for constitutional implications. You can search the list of current and former inquiries conducted in the current (2010-15) Parliament here. The list of publications produced by the committee in the current Parliament can be searched here. You will see on that page (and in the menu on the left) a link to publications from previous Parliaments going back to the 1997-98 session.

Australia

Guide to Procedures, 5th Edition: A concise introduction to the procedures of the House of Representatives, intended for participants in and observers of proceedings in the Chamber of the House and the Federation Chamber.

Procedural Digest: A record of selected procedural events in the House of Representatives Chamber and the Federation Chamber. It includes Speaker’s rulings, precedents and unusual situations.

House of Representatives Infosheets: A series of 22 Infosheets containing detailed information about the workings of the House. The information is suitable for students and people who want to know more about how the Parliament works.

Procedural Publications and Research Papers: Papers and transcripts on various aspects of Parliamentary process and administration.

House of Representatives Statistics

Senators’ Guide to Procedures: A guide for Senators to the most frequently used procedures and the relevant standing and other orders.

Brief Guides to Senate Procedure: A series aimed at those who require a practical understanding of the main procedures used in the Senate.

Procedural Information Bulletins: Issued at the end of each block of sitting weeks the Bulletin provides a summary of major legislative highlights and committee reports tabled, and commentary on procedural matters arising in the period under review.

New Zealand

Procedural Guides: A series of parliamentary procedural guides.

Speakers’ Rulings: Significant rulings made since 1867 which demonstrate how the Standing Orders have been applied and interpreted.

CABINET MANUALS

Cabinet manuals are authoritative guides which set out the main laws, rules and conventions affecting the conduct and operation of government. While they deal with government rather than parliament, they do  discuss key issues such as government formation following an election, the confidence convention, ministerial responsibility, etc.

UK Cabinet Manual

New Zealand Cabinet Manual

Australia Cabinet Handbook

PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEGE

Report of the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege (appointed to consider and report on the Green Paper on Parliamentary Privilege) 2013

First Report of the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege (1998-99)

JOURNALS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS

The Table: is the Journal of the Society of Clerks-at-the-Table in Commonwealth Parliaments and contains summaries of activities from Parliaments throughout the Commonwealth as well as articles of interest on a wide variety of issues related to Parliamentary process. Volumes 71 (2003) to present of The Table are available online to download as PDF files.

Canadian Parliamentary Review / Revue parlementaire canadienne: Published 4 times a year, the CPR presents articles and reports by academics, parliamentarians and parliament staffers on various aspects of our parliamentary system, procedure and related matters. Its archives dating back to 1978 are available online.

Parliamentary Affairs: is an established, peer-reviewed academic quarterly covering all the aspects of government and politics directly or indirectly connected with Parliament and parliamentary systems in Britain and throughout the world.

THINK TANKS AND RESEARCH INSTITUTES

The Constitution Unit: conducts timely, rigorous, independent research into constitutional change and its consequences.

The Hansard Society: Founded in 1944, the Hansard Society is a charity working in the UK and around the world to promote democracy and strengthen parliaments.

Samara Canada: is dedicated to reconnecting citizens to politics. Samara Canada’s research and educational programming shines new light on Canada’s democratic system and encourages greater political participation across the country.

Study of Parliament Group: UK chapter, Canadian Chapter, Australasian Chapter

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

Revolts.co.uk: Studies voting behaviour in the UK House of Commons and Lords, focusing on backbench voting behaviour.