Where is legislation published?
As legislation is covered by an open government licence, anyone can republish it, and there are many sources of legislation with annotations and commentary available. This article is purely concerned with the official sources of legislation for the United Kingdom as published by or on behalf of the government.
New legislation is first officially published on the Parliament website, where it is listed under Bills and Legislation. That page sets out the proposals for new laws, and plans to change existing laws, that are presented for debate before Parliament. There are separate sections for
- Bills before Parliament
- Draft Bills
- Secondary Legislation
- Acts of Parliament
You can use the relevant pages on that site to track the progress of a new Bill through the parliamentary process, find out what stage it has reached, and search for Bills in previous parliamentary sessions (which may not have been brought forward into the current session).
Texts of Acts of Parliament as originally passed by Parliament since 1988, and any earlier statutes that were then either wholly or partly in force, are available on the Legislation.gov.uk website.
This website is managed by The National Archives on behalf of HM Government. The database contains all Acts still in force, with Acts dating back as far as 1267, including Magna Carta.
You can search any legislation on the Legislation.gov.uk website via the Legislation Search on ICLR.4. The display of the content now incorporates a unique timeline feature, enabling the user to view legislation in its amended form as at any date when a change came into effect.
Legislation in print
A printed edition of new legislation is published by The Stationery Office (TSO), which took over from the publishing arm of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO) in 1996. HMSO was founded in 1786 and became official printer of legislation in 1889. It still exists in a supervisory capacity but has outsourced both printing and online publication.
TSO is a private company, part of the Lea Group. It is currently the official publisher and distributor for a variety of parliamentary and government publications, including legislation, command and house papers, select committee reports, Hansard, and the London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes, the UK government’s three official journals of record.
You can buy printed editions of new Acts of Parliament from the TSO Shop.
Older legislation and Acts no longer in force
The Parliamentary Archives hold copies of original Acts from 1497. In addition, some libraries will have bound copies of printed legislation dating back at least to 1866, which was when ICLR began printing an official version of all new statutes. That edition, known as The Law Reports Statutes, ceased publication in 2010.
Some of the information on this page has been reproduced verbatim from the Parliament and National Archives websites.
The default licence for the use and re-use of Crown copyright information is the Open Government Licence (OGL). Further information regarding Crown copyright and the OGL can be found on The National Archives website.