Launched 2 years ago, GOV.UK brings together government services and information online. As the first ever single domain for government, it replaced DirectGov, Business Link and over 250 separate department and agency websites.
The top 3 most visited pages are find a job, renew your vehicle tax, and calculate your state pension.
You have an opportunity to have your say and respond to the Commission directly via their website from the 13th October 2014.
The terms of reference for the Commission are:
To convene cross-party talks and facilitate an inclusive engagement process across Scotland to produce, by 30 November 2014, Heads of Agreement with recommendations for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. This process will be informed by a Command Paper, to be published by 31 October and will result in the publication of draft clauses by 25 January. The recommendations will deliver more financial, welfare and taxation powers, strengthening the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom.
Now available through the National Library of Scotland.
A full-text collection of 2,360 formerly classified U.S. government documents (most of them classified Top Secret or higher) which provides readers with the declassified documentary record about the successes and failures of the U.S. intelligence community in its efforts to spy on the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Details on how to access this resource can be found on the NLS Website
Churchill resigned from the House of Commons 50 years ago.He
started in the House of Commons in 1900 as a Conservative Member of Parliament
for Oldham.He was Prime Minister twice
1940-1945 and then 1951-1955.In 1959 he
was given the title Father of the House (the member with the longest continuous
the 28th July 1964 the then Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) said “ I beg to move, That this House desires to take this
opportunity of marking the forthcoming retirement of the right honourable
Gentleman the Member for Woodford by putting on record its unbounded
admiration and gratitude for his services to Parliament, to the nation and to
the world; remembers, above all, his inspiration of the British people when
they stood alone, and his leadership until victory was won; and offers its
grateful thanks to the right honourable Gentleman for these outstanding
services to this House and to the nation.”
thought I would check Hansard for some of his speeches from World War I and
from World War II.An example of one of
the many hundreds of speeches he gave in the House of Commons is on the 27th
November 1914 as the First Lord of the Admiralty where he states “But even if
we were single-handed, as we were in the days of the Napoleonic wars, we should
have no reason to despair of our capacity-no doubt we should suffer discomfort
and privation and loss-but we should have no reason to despair of our capacity
to go on indefinitely, drawing our supplies from wherever we needed them, and
transporting our troops wherever we required them, and to continue this process
with a strength which would grow stronger with each month the War continued
until, in the end, and perhaps not at any very distant date, the purposes for
which we are fighting are achieved.”
one of the most famous speeches he made to the House of Commons on the 20th
August 1940 was “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so
many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant
actions we see with our own eyes day after day....”
In my last post I mentioned
an EDM (Early Day Motion), EDMs are formal motions submitted for debate in the
House of Commons.Actually very few will
be debated but the EDM’s allow MPs to highlight an event or a cause.MPs can register their support by signing the
There was an early day motion
no. 341 submitted to parliament on the 12th September 2014 by Mike Crockart
about Dr. Elsie Inglis and the Scottish Women’s hospitals.
House celebrates the bravery, achievements and hard work of Dr Elsie Inglis and
the other women who set up and served in the Scottish Women’s Hospitals;
recognises that the Scottish Women’s Hospitals became one of the best medical
initiatives of World War One; acknowledges that these hospitals were set up
despite a severe lack of support from the British War Office; estimates that
the hospitals saved the lives of tens of thousands of people all in countries
such as Serbia, Belgium, France, Russia, Romania, Corsica, Corfu and Greece;
notes that the 14 women’s hospitals with a staff of over 1,000 women make up a
remarkable, yet unrecognised part of our history; further notes that whilst Dr
Inglis and the other women who served in these hospitals are recognised as
heroes in Serbia, their work and achievements are barely recognised in the UK
outside of Dr Inglis’ adopted home of Edinburgh; welcomes the proposal by
Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation to recognise the work of Dr Elsie
Inglis and her compatriots by establishing a training fund in the name of Dr
Elsie Inglis for staff to access courses which may not be available through NHS
Lothian; further recognises 16 August 2014 will be the 150th anniversary of the
birth of this medical pioneer, suffragist, and First World War heroine; and
strongly believes that during the centenary year of the outbreak of the First
World War, the work of the brave women who served in these hospitals should be
properly recognised and celebrated.”
I was interested in reading what the House of Commons and Lords said in Hansard on the 5th August 1914 about
the European War as it was called.
House of Commons Hansard vol.65 1914
Prime Minister…Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs- a note
of which the following is a literal translation: “Belgian Government
regret to have to inform His Majesty's Government that this morning armed
forces of Germany penetrated into Belgian territory in violation of engagements
assumed by treaty. Belgian Government
are further resolved to resist by all means in their power. Belgium appeals to
Great Britain and France and Russia to co-operate, as guarantors, in defence of
her territory. There would be concerted and common action with the object of
resisting the forcible measures employed by Germany against Belgium, and at the
same time of guarding the maintenance for future of the
independence and integrity of Belgium…”
The House of Lords Hansard vol. 17 1914
The Marquis of Crewe
He reiterated what the House of Commons said about Belgium
but then carried on to say …That is all, my Lords, that I have to say at this
moment upon the general situation. But on the particular
points of the situation as it affects us here in our daily life and the financial
situation in this country, I desire to say one or two words. During the last
few days the Government have been conferring at great length with the most
important representatives of finance and commerce in the country, including
representatives of bankers, bill brokers, the Stock Exchange, discount houses,
and also with an almost complete representation of all the great industries of
the country-textile, iron, docks, and the rest; and I can say that we have
found an absolutely universal desire among those representatives of great
interests to combine so far as possible to meet the crisis which has arisen, in
the interests of the country at large. … Our main object has been that the normal
life of the country should be carried on with as little displacement as is
possible in the unprecedented circumstances in which we are placed, more
especially as they affect the wage-earning classes. We found that both the
financiers, speaking in the widest sense, and the captains of industry have
been absolutely of one mind in determining that so far as possible things shall
pursue their normal course, and that, so far as they are able to ensure it,
money shall be forthcoming to meet the ordinary needs and concerns of life. We
found that the great manufacturers are steady in determination to keep their
works open so far as is possible for them, contemplating, no doubt, that in
some cases they would be on short time, but with the resolve that so far as
possible men or women should not be altogether thrown out of employment. They
are prepared to do this even at the risk of accumulating stocks for which there
may be no obvious market at the moment, and I am sure the House will agree that
that is a most honourable and a most helpful determination on their part.
To read both statements you can find them either at GHC.5 for
the House of Commons Hansard and GHL.5 for the House of Lords Hansard or see
the electronic versions online, if you are a registered reader, in our licensed
Seventy years ago the Hansard Society was founded amidst the turbulence of world war. With the country facing what our founder, Sir Stephen King-Hall MP, described as ‘a life and death struggle for the preservation of parliamentary democracy’, he established the organisation to ‘promote future knowledge of, and interest in, Parliament and parliamentary institutions’.
June 6th 1944 Churchill addressed the House of Commons. He detailed successes in both Italy and the initial successes of the landings on Norman beaches by the huge allied liberating armies.
His speech can be viewed on the TheyWorkForYou site
You can also access Hansard from 1803-2005 via the National Library of Scotland's website if you live in Scotland and you have a library card. It is listed underlicensed digital collections and contained in the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers database.
Today is the State Opening of Parliament heralding the first day of a new parliamentary session at Westminster. More information can be found on the UK Parliament website. Compare todays event with this Pathe News footage from 1958.
Earlier this week I visited the Glasgow Women’s Library in Bridgeton.
GWL is a charity and relies heavily on the work and support of volunteers (87 of them at present!) to advance their many projects.
It is the only resource of its kind in Scotland.
As well as a lending library, they hold a wonderful treasure trove of historical and contemporary artifacts and archive materials that celebrate the lives, histories and achievements of women. From Suffragette memorabilia and 1930s dress making patterns to rare 1970s Scottish Women’s Liberation newsletters.
They also support thousands of women across Scotland every year to improve their lives through their services and programmes, including support and activities that tackle a wide range of issues from poverty and women’s health, sexuality and surviving violence.
Empowering women is one of their key aims.
They have grown from a small grassroots project into the main hub for information by, for and about women in Scotland, offering specialized learning, collections and archives. GWL has always been a hotbed of ideas and is now growing into a pioneering women’s social enterprise.
I was particularly interested in the Suffragette material that they hold as we have information within our Official Publications collections on Parliament's responses to the Suffragette movement This can be found in Hansard.
Hansard can be accessed digitally via the NLS’s licensed digital collections. It is contained in the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers database. More information here.
Alternatively Hansard is freely available back to 1935 here
Watch a short podcast on finding more information on the suffragettes in our parliamentary collections here.
GWL can be found on Facebook and you can follow @gwlkettle on twitter
The Gretna Green disaster caused the greatest loss of life that has ever occurred in an accident on the railways in the UK.
224 passengers and 3 servants were killed. 242 passengers and 4 servants were injured.
Most of the passengers on the train were territorial soldiers from the 1/7th Leith Battalion, The Royal Scots who were heading for Gallipoli.
You can read the full details of the report by Lieutenant-Colonel Druitt into the double collision which occurred between passenger trains at Quintinshill, near Gretna in our Parliamentary Papers collection.
The reference for the report is P.P. 1914-16 Cd 8114
Details of the numbers killed and injured are listed in a further report -
1916 [Cd. 8301] General report to the Board of Trade upon the accidents that have occurred on the railways of the United Kingdom during the year 1915.
This collection is available digitally via our subscription to the Proquest House of Commons Parliamentary Papers database. This is freely available to readers in Scotland with a National Library of Scotland readers ticket.
Browsing through the American items in the Official
Publications Collection, I am amazed at how many wonderful art books are held
in this collection, although the book “The Charters of Freedom “A New World is
at Hand”” is not from the obvious galleries such as the National Gallery of Art or the Smithsonian Institute,
it is a lovely book with beautiful pictures in it.
This book is based on an exhibition in the National Archives
Rotund for the Charters of Freedom, the exhibition opened on September 17,
2003. But what are the Charters of Freedom? They arethe Declaration of Independence, Constitution
and Bill of Rights, these have guaranteed the rights and freedom of Americans
for over 200 years.
The book gives glimpses of the story on how the Charters
were created, plus the course of history in the United States and around the
world.The Declaration was announced to
the world on July 4, 1776, and stated that the thirteen British colonies in
North America were leaving Great Britain to form a separate nation, ”the Declaration
articulates the highest ideals of the Revolution, beliefs in liberty, equality,
and the right to self-determination.”The Constitution drafted in 1787 was the practical scheme of the
government to promote the welfare of all its citizens and the Bill of Rights in
1791 went on to explicitly protect the freedom of speech, of the press, of
religion and of assembly among many other freedoms.
The book is full of wonderful pictures and snippets of
information about these three documents.I particularly love the pictures of the two murals that grace the curved
walls of the Rotunda.
Delving further into the American collection held
in the Official Publications
I thought that I should start at the beginning of the collection and I found
this lovely book.
It was published in 1953 and distributed by the United
States Information Service.In the
introduction it states “This booklet is an attempt to supply some of the answers in
a concise and convenient form and to trace some of the major currents of
thought and development in the nation’s growth.”
It has 7 chapters: the Colonial period, the winning of
independence, the formation of a National Government, Westward expansion and
regional differences, sectional conflict, the era of expansion and reform and
ending with America in the modern world.
The chapters are easy to read and have many interesting
points. In the chapter titled "Westward expansion and regional differences", there is a small section about women’s suffrage. Interestingly the unmarried women in most respects apparently
enjoyed the same legal rights as men, apart from voting, but as soon as she married (and the custom
was to marry early) then it changed.It
states that “the awakening of women began with a visit to America of Frances
Wright, a Scotswoman of advanced views.Her appearance before audiences to deliver lectures on theology and
women’s rights shocked the public.”
The biggest chapter is on the Sectional Conflict
“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure
permanently half slave and half free” Abraham Lincoln.
There is a picture in black and white showing the
Confederates firing upon Fort Sumter which began the Civil war on the 12th
April 1861. There also is a small map of the battle area of the Civil War.
This book is only 146 pages but full of very fascinating facts, and well worth a read. You can find it at shelfmark F1/AA.4.24
The Sanitary Commission of the United States Army: a succinct
narrative of its works and purpose.
I was admittedly quite fascinated with this title.It was
published in 1864 in New York for the benefit of the United States Sanitary
In reading the introduction it stated “The commission knew
that the average annual death-rate in armies in our former wars had been
exceedingly high, and that an army of volunteer forces is most liable to fatal
diseases.In our vast armies of
volunteers, the problems of sanitary science were to be wrought out as a
national and patriotic work….Can the average sickness-rate be kept at a minimum
point? Can the average death-rate from disease be reduced to a fraction of that
which was registered in the Mexican war?This result the commission believed possible.”
This is a fascinating book about the Commission and what
they achieved, they are harrowing descriptions such as from page 33 “At the
time of which I am now writing (Monday afternoon), wounded men were arriving by
every train….They were packed as closely as they could be stowed in the common
freight-cars, without beds, without straw, at most with a wisp of hay under
their heads.Many of the lighter cases
came on the roof of the cars.They
arrived dead and living together, in the same close box, many with awful wounds
festering and swarming with maggots.”The
smell apparently reduced the men that cared for them to vomit.
But it also states on page 229
“The Brigadier-General commanding gratefully recalls to the
recollection of the troops of this command, and the debt incurred by them
during the recent movements, to the Sanitary Commission and its Agent Mr A. B.
Day.Much suffering has been alleviated
and many inconveniencies removed by the energy and promptness with which the
supplies of the Commission have been paced at the control of our medical
This book is well worth a read and can be found at shelfmark
On Tuesday 26th November the Scottish Government will publish the Scottish Government’s white paper on independence.
This important document is available online in PDF, HTML and in the eBook formats ePub and Mobi at www.scotreferendum.com as well as in print.
From Wednesday 27th November libraries throughout the whole of Scotland will start to receive 5 printed copies of this important publication. Libraries will also receive the eBook and PDF files for inclusion in e-lending and also to be given away to those who wish to download their own copies.
The eBook and PDF files of the white paper on independence are DRM free and can be given away and borrowed as often as you wish. There are no restrictions.
In addition, libraries can advise members of the public to visit www.scotreferendum.com for more information and to download their own copies.
Members of the public who require a printed copy should contact 0300 012 1809.
The Scottish Parliament Information Centre has launched its Referendum Hub for those seeking information on Independence for Scotland, and on the debate around the Referendum. Material has been selected by impartial researchers within the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, who have made every effort to ensure both sides of the debate are fairly represented.
Official Publications in the National Library of Scotland
Welcome to our blog! We are curators of the Official Publications collection in the National Library of Scotland (we have over 2 million government and government-related publications). You can find out more about who we are and what's in our collections on our web pages. Meantime, check our blog regularly for our posts on the latest publications, news, events, or anything we find interesting - you may be surprised!