Scotland politics

National Library's House of Lords papers to go online

House of Lords papers Image copyright National Library of Scotland

Historic papers which give an insight into Britain's 19th Century political history are to be made available online.

The National Library of Scotland's collection of House of Lords papers is made up of about 3,000 historic volumes, some of which are in a fragile state.

They are some of the few surviving copies.

The project will digitise every page and help protect the original papers.

When the project is completed later this year, it will provide the library's registered users in Scotland with free online access to a wealth of valuable and little-seen parliamentary documents.

Until now, they have only been available to researchers visiting the library in Edinburgh.

Image copyright National Library of Scotland

The content will be provided to other libraries through commercial arrangements with technology company ProQuest.

Dr John Scally, Scotland's national librarian, said: "More British prime ministers served in the Lords in the 19th Century than in the House of Commons, despite the progressive dwindling of the influence of the upper chamber.

"This is a fascinating period in our history and digitisation will make these important papers available to our users on any screen, anytime, anywhere.

"This partnership with ProQuest and the House of Lords Library is part of our commitment to open up our collections to as many people as possible."

Considerable power

The House of Lords parliamentary papers encompass wide areas of social, political, economic and foreign policy, providing evidence of committees and commissions during a time when the Lords in the United Kingdom wielded considerable power.

The collection includes many bills which originated and were subsequently rejected by the Lords - indicators of the direction and interests of the Lords that have been largely lost to researchers.

The final version of a bill passing from the Commons to the Lords will also be included.

The collection will shed new light on edits and revisions made by the Lords on these key bills in their last stages of the legislative process and will provide a full study and understanding of this activity. The papers will fill in the gap in how legislation was written, amended, and passed.

Susan Bokern, from ProQuest, said: "The research value of the House of Lords parliamentary papers is of international significance. As an addition to ProQuest's comprehensive and diverse collection of government databases, researchers are even more empowered to analyse global perspectives of key political outcomes of the 19th Century and beyond."

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