Answered By: Referencing Enquiries Team
Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018     Views: 133

There are different types of government and parliamentary sources of information. The type of source it is will determine how it should be referenced.

Here are different types of government and parliamentary sources and how to identify them. Once you have identified the source, refer to the appropriate reference type in the MMU Harvard referencing guide and follow the format for that source.


  • Government command papers are issued by Government and presented to Parliament by Command of Her Majesty.  Reports produced by UK government bodies can be command papers, along with green papers, white papers and treaties. 

Command papers can usually be identify by an official command paper number on the first or second page of the document and the number is preceded by an abbreviation of command, for example: cmnd, cmd, cd or cm.

Use reference type: Government command papers


  • Acts of parliament or primary legislation are statute law passed by Parliament. This source of information will have 'Act' in the title, for example, the Housing Act 2004.

Use reference type: Acts of parliament


  • Bills are proposed legislation under consideration by Parliament. Once a bill has been enacted it becomes an Act of Parliament/Statute.

Use reference type: Bills


  • Parliamentary papers can be papers produced by Parliament and its committees. These papers are published as House of Commons or House of Lords papers. Parliamentary papers can also be papers presented to Parliament by bodies outside of Parliament. Many of these papers are then published under Parliament’s authority as House of Commons Papers.

Parliamentary papers can usually be identified by an official House of Commons or House of Lords reference number, which will be preceded by HC or HL respectively, for example: HC 395-I

Use reference type: Parliamentary papers


  • Parliamentary debates are held by both Houses of ParliamentTranscripts of Parliamentary debates are known by the publication name of Hansard.

Use reference type: Parliamentary debates


  • House of Commons Library briefing papers are research publications produced by UK Houses of Parliament Libraries to inform Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords. They will be clearly marked as a briefing paper and include a briefing paper number.

Use reference type: Briefing papers


  • For other sources by government departments, accessed as PDF documents, that do not fall under one of the specific types above, follow the format for an Online PDF document