The House of Commons Debates, commonly known as “Hansard”, are the official edited verbatim reports of the proceedings that take place in the House, while the official record of the proceedings of the House is the Journals. The Debates are compiled by Parliamentary Publications, are published in both official languages after each sitting day, and are available to Members and the public. The electronic versions are available on the House of Commons website the following morning.
Like the Journals, Debates follows the proceedings of the House, which are based on the Order of Business established for that day. However, while the Journals record only the business conducted, Debates reports the full deliberations of the House. Debates records not only the speeches of Members in debate but also other comments and remarks made by Members in the Chamber
In addition, the Debates contain:
Members cannot table their speeches to be published in “Hansard”.
The Debates are produced separately in each official language. The original language used by the Member is indicated.
In each issue of the Debates is a table of contents that reflects the headings of the day’s Order of Business. Under each heading are specific subject headings followed by a list of speakers. The text of the Debates is published with headings inserted by the editors. These headings represent both the categories of business in the Order of Business for that day and the subject matter discussed under those categories. The editors also insert notes indicating such things as the disposition of business.
In the electronic (HTML) version of the Debates, whenever a Member of Parliament speaks, his or her speech is captured as an individual intervention.
Clicking on the name of an MP in the Debates opens an intervention card that contains information on the MP, a link to the video feed for that intervention, and links to share the intervention on social media. The intervention cards also allow users to follow the RSS feed for an MP and provide a link to an XML version of the intervention, in order for it to be linked to for other purposes.
The unedited complete versions of Debates are called the “blues”, so named because they used to be printed on blue paper. As drafts, they are not intended to be quoted. Instead, quotations should be extracted from the official edited version of the day’s proceedings when it is available the next day.
The “blues” are available electronically to all Members of the House of Commons
Parliamentary Publications also e-mails the “blues” of all interventions in the House to any Member who has spoken. Members may suggest minor alterations to the text, which are confined to clarification and the correction of errors; however, they may not make material changes to the meaning of what was actually said in the House. Members may bring substantive errors to the attention of the House the following day.
Additions are made to the “blues” site over the course of the sitting day as soon as the initial transcription is complete. Posting time may vary from one to two hours after the proceedings.
For corrections to be made, the “blues” must be returned by e-mail to Parliamentary Publications within the stipulated deadlines: two hours from the time of the original e-mail while the House is sitting, or one hour from the time of the original e-mail after the House has adjourned. All returned “blues” must be sent by the Member or a designated agent.
Depending on the length of the day’s proceedings, the edited electronic version may be posted on the public House of Commons website anywhere from midnight to the early morning of the next day, normally by 5:00 a.m.
Comprehensive indexes to the Debates of the House are kept up to date throughout the session and are available on the House of Commons website. With the Publication Search tool, searches can be performed using keywords relating to House business, such as statements by Members, debate subjects, Speaker’s decisions and procedural matters. The indexes to the Debates are also printed in bound volumes at the end of each session.
For more information on the indexes to the Debates, please contact the Information Management Unit (Parliamentary Publications) at the following coordinates:
(See the Debates of the House of Commons on the House of Commons website.)