Skip to main content

Official Publications: Lords papers and Bills

What are Lords Papers?

The House of Lords helps to shape legislation and can challenge the work of government.  In addition to considering bills, much of the Lords work is done through their Select Committees.   Most Committees are 'permanent'. i.e. the Committee retains the same overall name but explores different issues within its subject area, e.g. the Science and Technology Committee.  Other Select Committees may be formed to scrutinise a single issue, e.g. Affordable Childcare or The Arctic

Links to all Lords Committees

What are Bills?

A Bill is a draft law, which needs to pass both the Commons and the Lords, then receive Royal Assent, in order to become an Act.  A Bill is a draft Act of Parliament.  To become law it has to be approved by both Houses.  It is reprinted as many times as necessary on its passage through both Houses, in order to incorporate amendments. Bills are numbered serially within each Session, and each
amended version is given a new number.  Bills in the Commons have the prefix HC and Bills in the Lords have the prefix HL. Not all Bills do become Acts.  A useful guide to the way a bill progresses through Parliament is available on the Parliament website.

To see how bills in the current parliament are progressing, see the Bills before Parliament page.

The research units of the Commons and the Lords produce very useful publications which discuss various topics, including government bills, see the Research Publications page.  Typical examples include a 'Standard Note' on the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill  and a Research Paper on the Modern Slavery Bill

Finding Lords papers and Bills

Members of the University can access two online full-text services (links below) which between them cover very old and more recent House of Lords documents.  The Parliament website offers free access to Bills and Select Committee Reports, most from 1996/97 onwards.

There is a 'gap' in the provision of online versions of House of Lords papers and bills especially 19th and earlier 20th century documents.  Their recent Committee reports and bills are well covered on the Parliament website.  Public Information Online (available to members of the University of Birmingham) has Lords papers from 1955/56 onwards and bills from 1956/57 onwards.  18th century Lords documents are part of the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers.