Research briefings

This page provides access to research briefings produced by the House of Commons Library, the House of Lords Library and the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). You can filter the research briefings by date, type, or one of 350 topics. Pick your options from the dropdown menus.

Find a briefing paper
  1. Close


    • Commons Briefing papers: Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
    • Lords Library Notes: Authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
    • POSTbriefs: Responsive policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on mini-literature reviews and peer review, typically commissioned by select committees and library research services.
    • POSTnotes: Proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board.
  2. Close


    Topics: Research material can be filtered by subject using the topic terms. The topics are arranged in a taxonomy (a hierarchical classification) and can be further filtered using sub-topics.

Displaying 1-20 out of 293

Individual Electoral Registration
Published Monday, February 1, 2016 | Commons Briefing papers SN06764
This Commons Briefing Paper provides information about the introduction of the new system of electoral registration (IER) in Great Britain and funding both for the transition period and to support a range of initiatives to increase the level of voter registration among under-registered groups, including students. Registration in Northern Ireland has been on an individual basis since 2002.
Local government in England: structures
Published Friday, January 29, 2016 | Commons Briefing papers SN07104
This note contains basic details of the structure of local government (counties, districts and unitary authorities); the electoral system, ward structures, and the franchise; the divisions of functions between local authorities; and the process for changing local government boundaries and structures.
The EU referendum campaign
Published Wednesday, January 27, 2016 | Commons Briefing papers CBP-7486
This House of Commons Library briefing includes information about the secondary legislation required to start the official campaign period before the EU referendum, including regulations to set the date of the referendum, and the duration and start date of the period during which lead campaign organisations are designated. It also includes information on the rules that apply to campaign activity.
Overseas voters
Published Wednesday, January 27, 2016 | Commons Briefing papers SN05923
British citizens living overseas are entitled to be registered to vote in UK Parliamentary elections for up to 15 years in the constituency they were registered in before leaving the UK. After the general election the Government indicated that it would bring forward a Votes for Life Bill; this Bill has not yet been introduced but the Government indicated that its provisions would end the 15 year rule. This Briefing Paper provides details of the provisions relating to overseas voters in the Representation of the People Act 1985 and of earlier attempts to change the 15 year rule.
Social background of Members of Parliament 1979-2015
Published Tuesday, January 26, 2016 | Commons Briefing papers CBP-7483
Following General Election 2015, 29% of MPs are female, 53% are over 50 years old, 6% are from non-white backgrounds and one-third are from fee-paying schools. The share of manual workers has fallen from 16% in 1979 to 3% in 2015. This note examines the social background of MPs from 1979 to 2015.
Prisoners' voting rights: developments since May 2015
Published Tuesday, January 12, 2016 | Commons Briefing papers CBP-7461
This House of Commons Briefing Paper analyses the debate over the voting rights of prisoners since May 2015, it also includes a concise summary of the main developments before May 2015.
Political party funding: sources and regulations
Published Monday, January 11, 2016 | Commons Briefing papers SN07137
This Commons Library Briefing paper introduces the main sources of funding for political parties and the rules applying to their use.
European Union Referendum Bill 2015-16: Progress of the Bill
Published Friday, December 11, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers CBP-7249
This House of Commons Library paper summarises the progress of the European Union Referendum Bill 2015-16 through Parliament. The Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 9 June 2015 and progressed through Committee stage on 16 and 18 June 2015. Report stage and Third Reading took place on 7 September 2015. The Bill returned from the House of Lords on 1 December 2015.
Constituency boundary reviews and the number of MPs
Published Wednesday, December 9, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers SN05929
This House of Commons Library briefing explains how Parliamentary constituency boundaries are reviewed. The next review will reduce the size of the House of Commons to 600.

Topic: Elections

Parliamentary election petitions
Published Wednesday, December 9, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers SN05751
This Briefing Paper provides information about the election petitions in Orkney and Shetland in 2015 and in Oldham East and Saddleworth in 2010. Details of the election petition procedure are also given.

Topic: Elections

Electoral offences since 2010
Published Tuesday, December 8, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers SN06255
Sir Eric Pickles, the Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion, is carrying out a review of electoral fraud and will make recommendations on what could be done to tackle the problem.This Briefing Paper provides information about electoral fraud since 2010 and includes details of the reports published by the Electoral Commission and the Associations of Chief Police Officers on cases of alleged electoral malpractice.
Number of UK by-elections since 1945
Published Friday, December 4, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers SN02383
UK parliamentary by-elections by session and by Parliament since 1945
By-elections since the 2015 General Election
Published Friday, December 4, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers CBP-7417
This research briefing sets out results of the on-going by-elections being held during the 2015-20 Parliament.
Postal voting
Published Friday, December 4, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers CBP-7419
This House of Commons Library briefing provides information about postal voting. Postal voting is available on demand, but has been associated with the potential for electoral fraud. All-postal voting pilots have shown postal voting can increase turnout. The briefing also includes statistical information, a brief history of postal voting legislation, and information about postal voting at the 2015 General Election.

Topic: Elections

Voting age
Published Tuesday, November 24, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers SN01747
Under current legislation, a person must be 18 or over to vote. This Note gives details of calls for a change in the law to reduce the voting age to 16.
By-election timetables
Published Monday, November 23, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers SN06609
This House of Commons Library Briefing Paper gives background to the change in length of the by-election timetable effected by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013. The Parliamentary by-election timetable is now between 21 and 27 working days from the issuing of the writ (it had previously been between 13 and 19 days). The Paper also gives details of the new model timetable.
Electoral arrangements in Wales
Published Monday, November 23, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers SN06641
This House of Commons Library paper describes the devolution of electoral arrangements to Wales. The draft Wales Bill published on 20 October 2015 is the latest development in this process. The paper looks at developments since 2012 and discusses debates about the number of constituencies in Wales.
Armed Forces Voting
Published Wednesday, November 18, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers SN04276
The Armed Forces can register to vote as ordinary electors, as overseas voters, or as service voters. There has been concern about the under-registration of the Armed Forces, especially those serving overseas, and the difficulties they face in participating in the electoral process more generally.The Note also gives a brief history of how the system of voting by members of the Armed Forces has changed, particularly during the periods directly after each World War.
Social Indicators 2015
Published Monday, November 16, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers CBP-7381
This Research Paper summarises a wide range of social statistics. Subjects covered include agriculture, crime, defence, education, elections, environment and energy, health, housing, local government, population and migration, social security and transport.
General Election results: Social Indicators page
Published Friday, November 13, 2015 | Commons Briefing papers SN02632
General Election results: headline data and trends.

Displaying 1-20 out of 293

About libraries

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.

House of Lords Library

The House of Lords Library delivers research and information services to Members and staff of the House in support of parliamentary business.


The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers
  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Lords In Focus
  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Lords Library notes
  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts POSTnotes
  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts POSTbriefs