About Hansard online
What is Hansard?
Hansard is a “substantially verbatim” report of what is said in Parliament. Members’ words are recorded, and then edited to remove repetitions and obvious mistakes, albeit without taking away from the meaning of what is said. Hansard also reports decisions taken during a sitting and records how Members voted to reach those decisions in Divisions.
Historically, Hansard has been a printed document—some people even used to pay for a subscription. Now, while we still print Hansard each day for distribution around Parliament, the majority of our readers access our reports online via this website. If you want to see how a printed Hansard looks, you can download pdf documents from this site.
Each House of Parliament has its own publications. Commons Hansard includes proceedings in the Commons Chamber and Westminster Hall, as well as written ministerial statements, petitions and ministerial corrections, with separate reports produced of proceedings in Commons General and Public Bill Committees. Lords Hansard details proceedings in the Lords Chamber and Grand Committee. Commons and Lords Hansard are responsible for producing the transcripts of Select Committees’ evidence-taking sittings, which are currently published on each Committee’s page on the parliamentary website.
What is this website?
Hansard online is an ongoing project involving the Commons and Lords Hansards and the Parliamentary Digital Service. When the site was first launched, it offered content from 2010 to the present day. We’ve now added our historical archive to the site, meaning that you can access records of debates from as far back as the early 19th century.
In the early stages of the project, we brought together Commons and Lords content into one place, incorporated “rolling” publication into the website and encouraged sharing of content. Future work will include an enlarged historical Member database and the linking of Hansard text with AV content.
On any day when either Chamber is sitting, the “rolling” version of Hansard is published in instalments, so you should be able to see what a Member has said within three hours of them saying it. Once the collated record (the “daily part”) of Hansard is published the following morning, the website is updated, with further functionality added. We offer rolling publication of Westminster Hall and Lords Grand Committee proceedings, and reports of Commons General and Public Bill Committee sittings are published as soon as possible, usually overnight.
The site offers a much-improved search function, with results broken down into a variety of categories. Our default option gives you results from the previous five years for both Houses, but you can customise each search to your preferences. The search tool now has a visual interface—you can find tips on how to use this on the search page.
Once the daily part has been published, you can link to specific contributions. You can also see a particular Member’s contributions and voting record aggregated on their personal page, which you’ll find by clicking on their name when they’ve spoken in a debate or searching for them specifically. The link to that page can then be bookmarked if you want to view it again.
What’s different about our historical content?
The vast majority of our historical content was generated by scanning physical copies of bound volumes and converting the output into a format that could be processed for web presentation. As a result, this content does not have the additional metadata associated with our current output, which means that it is currently not possible to search by Member or to aggregate all a Member’s output on an individual page, for example. We will be looking at ways of enriching our historical content as the project progresses.
In addition, as a by-product of the scanning process, there may be errors within the text when characters have been mis-scanned, or unexpected structures for a day’s proceedings. We’ll be correcting these errors as and when we become aware of them.
We are aware that a small number of volumes for both Houses are missing from the website. We aim to locate these volumes in a suitable format for publication. If you are looking for content from between 2005 and 2006, you may be able to access this through a legacy site.
We are now presenting written answers from our historical content up to 2010. Written answers from between 2010 and 2014 may be found on our legacy site. Please note that Hansard ceased publishing written answers in October 2014.