House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff. It is part of the Department of Information Services.

Research and Information Services for Members

The House of Commons Library's research and information service provides a specialist impartial information and briefing service for MPs, their staff, committees and staff of the House. Its staff produce a wide range of briefing material and other services, including:

  • Confidential answers to enquiries on the full range of subjects of interest to Members of Parliament and Commons Committees
  • Research Papers and other briefings on bills and other topics of public and parliamentary concern
  • Material via the parliamentary intranet
  • Talks and informal face to face briefing

There are eight subject teams, each comprising subject specialist researchers and a resource team.

  • Business and Transport
  • Economic Policy and Statistics
  • Home Affairs
  • International Affairs and Defence
  • Parliament and Constitution Centre
  • Science and Environment
  • Social and General Statistics
  • Social Policy

The Reference Services Section is the Library's main face-to-face contact point with its customers - MPs, their staff and staff of the House. The section answers requests for information directly or identifies the relevant source for the information if it requires specialist knowledge or analysis. It also manages reading rooms and enquiry points in three locations:

  • the Members' Library in the Palace of Westminster
  • the Derby Gate Library
  • the Members Centre in Portcullis House

Some of the work produced by the research and information service is available to the public.

  • Research Papers - briefings on most government and some other Bills, on other topical issues and regular statistics including election results.
  • Standard Notes - short briefings often produced in response to frequently asked questions by MPs. They are less formal briefings than Research Papers.
  •  Parliamentary Information Lists - giving factual information on a wide range of parliamentary topics.
  • Deposited Papers database - government information placed in the Library, normally in response to a Parliamentary Question.  

Authors of Research Papers and Standard Notes are available to discuss their contents with MPs and their staff but cannot advise others. The research service welcomes comments on its papers, however it cannot guarantee to respond to them all. Comments should be sent to papers@parliament.uk or by post to Research Service Support Officer, Room L3-06, 1 Derby Gate, London SW1A 2DG.

Indexing and Data Management Section

The Indexing and Data Management Section maintains a database of Parliamentary data known as Parliamentary Information Management Services [PIMS]. PIMS offers subject-indexed references and full text access to current and recent Parliamentary information and press material (parliamentary questions, proceedings, papers and legislation, press notices and selected articles). Public access to PIMS data is available on a commercial basis via Parlianet (external website).

Library Resources Section

The Library Resources Section is responsible for the Library's principal holdings of parliamentary papers, books, pamphlets, Official Publications, serials and newspapers. It is also responsible for the binding and conservation of library stock of all types, and for the Library's access to on-line resources.

Further Information

Further information about the work of the Library can be obtained from the House of Commons Information Office and the factsheet, The House of Commons Library Department (PDF PDF 132 KB).

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These provide brief informative descriptions on how the House of Commons works.

The House of Commons Information Office answers questions about the business, history and membership of the House.

The House of Commons is the democratically elected house of the UK Parliament, with 650 Members of Parliament (MPs) each representing a different area of the UK.

Parliament's video and audio channel carries live and archived coverage of proceedings including PMQs, debates and committee meetings in both Houses.