Presentation of papers

7.34The presentation of papers to the House of Commons is effected by their delivery to the Votes and Proceedings Office (Journal Office), and to the House of Lords by their delivery to the Printed Paper Office.1 If the delivery of papers takes place at a time when Parliament is sitting, their titles are entered in the Appendix to the Votes and Proceedings and the Minutes of Proceedings for the day on which they are presented. Following presentation, papers are generally ordered by the two Houses to lie upon the Table. Under Standing Order No 158 of the House of Commons and Standing Order No 69 of the House of Lords, the delivery of Command Papers during periods when the House is not sitting is deemed to be for all purposes the presentation of them to each House; and in such cases the lists of their titles are entered in the Votes and Minutes when sittings are resumed. Similar provisions enabling presentation when the Houses are not sitting extend also to certain statutory instruments (see paras 31.1131.12 ), but not to other Act Papers.

If a department which has presented a paper wishes subsequently to withdraw it, the order that the paper do lie upon the Table may be discharged, and the paper withdrawn. This has also been done on the initiative of the House, after notice was taken that the paper presented was not a correct copy.2 A motion has been made to withdraw a paper presented in a previous session.3

Papers are presented to Parliament in a complete form, either printed or in typescript.4


  1. Strictly speaking, papers are presented to each House by command, and laid before each House by Act. This distinction is observed in the Minutes of Proceedings of the House of Lords but not in the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Commons and for convenience has been disregarded in this account.
  2. CJ (1945–46) 258.
  3. CJ (1945–46) 334.
  4. In exceptional circumstances, and with the prior agreement of the Journal Office concerned, papers may be presented ‘in dummy’, normally a sheet of paper bearing only the title of the document.