Parliamentary Papers in Europe

1 July 2015 Comment

Parliamentary Papers provide the best laboratory for studying the workings of government. They are essential tools for democracy, holding government to account and allowing historians to trace the political development of nation states

Parliamentary Papers itself is a loose term that can encompass myriad documents. There are transcriptions of speeches and dialogues from one or both debating chambers; there are committee papers; there are published laws and their amendments; their are written questions.

Each country has a unique system that creates a whole different range of documents.

Fragment from A long history of a short session of a certain parliament in a certain kingdom, Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1714 (?), Public Domain

For example, taking a look at one part of the French parliament, l'Assemblée nationale (National Assembly), one can find, amongst other things, Questions écrites (written questions), Amendments, rapports and comptes rendus (reports).

There are also related papers from the other house of the French Parliamentary system, Le Sénat.

As part of the Europeana Research content strategy, we are looking into the extent to which parliamentary papers from the EU member states are available online.

This is obviously a massive task, made more complex by the individual idiosyncrasies of each system and the language differences.

So, while the task aims to summarise what is available and from what time periods, we also want to explore how open the parliamentary papers are - what licence accompanies the documents, are they available for search only or for downloading as well.

We've made a Google document open to record the information we collect.

We are also looking for help - we are very keen to hear from experts and interested parties if they have specific knowledge about the papers of one country. Or if you interested in exploring the papers from a research angle, we are also happy to hear.

Please get in touch !

Alastair Dunning
Martin Schaller