Young and old

Lord Norton

44101Lords of the Blog is now one year old.  Today marks the start of our second year. 

However, we are a mere stripling compared with the Official Report (Hansard).  It is celebrating its 100th birthday as an official publication. 

 Some form of report of parliamentary debates was published from 1803 onwards, but they were not official publications.  The name ‘Hansard’ derives from the Hansard family who published reports as a private concern.   Only in 1909 was it decided that Parliament itself should take over the publication and so both Houses began publishing Official Reports: in essence, the near-verbatim record of proceedings with which we are now familiar.  Although the report has continued to be referred to as ‘Hansard’, it was only in 1943 that the name was brought back in a semi-official capacity and published on the cover of each issue.

There will be a special publication – a  500-page collection of important speeches, with commentary –  to mark the anniversary.  It will published by The Stationery Office on 2 April.

7 comments for “Young and old

  1. Adrian Kidney
    18/03/2009 at 10:16 am

    I’m totally getting myself a copy of that.

    I remember reading a story about how the publication of parliamentary proceedings was initially made permissible. The Houses would frequently condemn people for recording what was discussed in Parliament, and I understand it was routine in the 18th Century for the Houses of Parliament to summon journalists before the Houses by Writ of Attainder to be punished for recording debates, and many got round it by dressing records of debate up as fictional stories.

    Apparently in the Peer’s lobby in the early 19th Century the Lord Chancellor accidentally bumped a member of the public who consequently dropped his journalist’s notepad. The air was suddenly still, and all present horrified at the prospect of the Lord High Chancellor of England unleashing his full judicial wrath on the poor journalist.

    Instead the Lord Chancellor picked up the notepad, handed it to the poor man, said ‘terribly sorry about that’, and went on his way. It was after that point implied that it was acceptable.

    I read it in a book somewhere, please anyone feel free to point out if it’s only a myth!

  2. Croft
    18/03/2009 at 10:26 am

    Will this be published as a free pdf (etc) for download or only as a paid dead tree?

    [Could you perhaps answer or make a future post on a query? I happened to be looking at some of the first debates after the ’58 act and noticed one of the first female life peers, the dowager Marchioness of Reading, listed in hansard carefully as Lady Swanborough but normally referred to as ‘the Noble Marchioness’. I can think of one present dowager countess sitting in the house as a life peer in a barony named after her (late) husband’s courtesy title. I wondered do (female) peers have a choice or are there rules as to by which titles they are called in the house? A male heir apparent can be known by a courtesy title in the house and many peers are known by only one or sometimes two of several equal ranking titles.]

  3. Bedd Gelert
    18/03/2009 at 11:08 am

    And good to see the Lords are still giving some people a well-deserved kicking..

    This is a scandal – and the documents are on Wikileaks if anyone wants a look.

    What happened to freedom of speech and a free press ?? No wonder banks can get away with their rapacious sale of Loan Protection Insurance, unfair charges and ‘rocket science’ financial products, when they can so effectively gag their critics.

    So it is good to see that you are holding them to account..

  4. Bedd Gelert
    18/03/2009 at 11:28 am

    Can someone have a word with that Myners fellow – he’s letting the side down..

  5. ladytizzy
    18/03/2009 at 3:22 pm

    Happy birthday and thank you, from me, to all who have made this work. Can I assume that this site has now secured sufficient backing for its future?

    On the Hansard book, would it be possible for the contributors here to have signed copies made available to them? Perhaps a special code or address can be set up – you know our email addresses. Just a thought.

  6. Senex
    18/03/2009 at 9:02 pm

    When you say: “Some form of report of parliamentary debates was published from 1803 onwards, but they were not official publications.” The Gentlemen’s Magazine started publishing in 1731 and finished in 1907. It reported on affairs in both houses of Parliament. Hansard is mentioned and valued. The writer wishing there had been a Hansard during Greek and Roman times.

    Publisher jealousy or does this passage suggests that nothing has really changed?

    Yet Hansard, after all, like the “Whole Duty of Man,” is only a dull book to dull readers. It is a mine of constitutional and political history. “An Old Almanack!”

    Ref: The Gentlemen’s Magazine Jun-Nov 1868 Pages 276, 453 Search on Hansard

  7. Senex
    22/03/2009 at 7:58 pm

    Hansard’s Lorraine Sutherland appeared on the Parliament channels Record Review on Friday March 19, 2009 and gave quite an interesting but all to short account of Hansard history.

    She let viewers know that a complete history of hansard was to be published in a new book on April 2nd. The problem is she was somewhat shy and the book stayed flat on the table when she might best have shoved in in front of the camera. So we have no title or ISBN number and it cannot be found it in the new book lists for April. Hansard, can anybody help?

    This extract from the web page link below:

    During the 18th and 19th centuries, Luke Hansard was the British Government’s printer. He had three sons, one of whom was Thomas Curson Hansard, known as TC, who left the family printing business in 1803 to set up on his own account in Peterborough Court off Fleet Street. In 1809, Cobbett gave TC the contract to print Debates. It was to TC that Cobbett also turned in that year to produce a pamphlet condemning an incident in which British soldiers had been flogged for mutiny, having been rounded up and guarded by German mercenaries.

    The Army was furious, and the Government had had enough of Cobbett and the inflammatory trouble-making that was his hallmark. He had put a great deal of effort into being a thorn in the side of the Establishment. As a result, he, TC and two others were charged with seditious libel and put on trial in Westminster Hall in 1810.

    The book should be a fascinating read when details appear.

    Ref: Story of Hansard

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