Hansard Society
The Hansard Society was formed in 1944 to promote parliamentary democracy. Founded and chaired by Commander Stephen King-Hall
Stephen King-Hall
Sir William Stephen Richard King-Hall, Baron King-Hall of Headley was a British naval officer, writer, politician and playwright. -Life:...

, the first subscribers were Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 and Clement Attlee
Clement Attlee
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955...

. The Society's co-Presidents are the Speaker of the House of Commons
Speaker of the British House of Commons
The Speaker of the House of Commons is the presiding officer of the House of Commons, the United Kingdom's lower chamber of Parliament. The current Speaker is John Bercow, who was elected on 22 June 2009, following the resignation of Michael Martin...

 John Bercow
John Bercow
John Simon Bercow is a British politician who has been the Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom since June 2009. Prior to his election to Speaker he was a member of the Conservative party....

 and the Lord Speaker
Lord Speaker
The Lord Speaker is the speaker of the House of Lords in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The office is analogous to the Speaker of the House of Commons: the Lord Speaker is elected by the members of the House of Lords and is expected to be politically impartial.Until July 2006, the role of...

 Baroness Hayman
Helene Hayman, Baroness Hayman
Helene Valerie Hayman, Baroness Hayman, PC was Lord Speaker of the House of Lords in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. As a member of the Labour Party she was a Member of Parliament from 1974 to 1979, and became a Life Peer in 1996...

, and the Vice-Presidents are the leaders of the Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

, Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 and the Liberal Democrat parties. The Society is named after the Hansard
Hansard is the name of the printed transcripts of parliamentary debates in the Westminster system of government. It is named after Thomas Curson Hansard, an early printer and publisher of these transcripts.-Origins:...

 Parliamentary Record, which publishes the proceedings of the British parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...


More than 60 years on, the Hansard Society claims to be universally recognised as the independent and non-partisan authority on Parliament and democracy. Their work encompasses a wide range of areas, from citizenship education to the role of Parliament, from devolution
Devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level. Devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving areas a budget which was formerly administered by central government...

 to the impact of new media on politics. In addition, the Society organises a variety of events in Westminster
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons...

 with high-profile speakers, influential seminars and popular fringe events at Party Conferences.

Advisory Council

The society has an Advisory Council who support the staff and work of the Society in an advisory capacity and across all the various programmes of work. It is composed of MPs and Lords, journalists, business people and academics. Within the council there is an Executive Committee, which acts as a Board of Trustees. The current Chair of the Advisory Council is Peter Riddell
Peter Riddell
The Rt Hon. Peter Riddell is a British journalist and author. From 1991 to 2010 he was a political commentator for The Times and has been an Assistant Editor since 1991. Prior to this, he was US Editor and Washington Bureau Chief at The Financial Times between 1989 and 1991.He has been a member of...


Areas of work

The Hansard Society functions through a number of different project teams, whose work includes:
  • providing a platform for debate on current issues around Parliament, constitutional affairs, participation and engagement
  • generating wide-reaching recommendations to improve parliamentary and legislative processes through timely and rigorous research
  • pushing the boundaries of new technology and its abilities to engage the public with policy makers
  • creating and promoting fresh and accessible resources to help teachers present the citizenship curriculum in an innovative and interesting way
  • running training sessions for teachers and policy professionals to enable them to understand a range of political issues and processes effectively
  • bringing students from across the globe to study the British political system and to gain experience through internships in a wide variety of political organisations

Citizenship Education

The Citizenship Education programme works with young people through schools and colleges to educate and inform them about parliamentary democracy and develop innovative ways to involve them in participatory democratic activities. It aims to ensure that teachers have free access to knowledge, training sessions and stimulating resources for political education.

The programme organises Mock Elections
Mock election
A mock election is an election organized for educational or transformative purposes.- Mock election for educational purposes :...

 in schools across the UK and runs a number of student-focused projects such as the HeadsUp forum, where young people can actively discuss and explore political issues and ideas and find out how they can make a difference.

Digital Democracy

Established in 1997, the Digital Democracy
E-democracy refers to the use of information technologies and communication technologies and strategies in political and governance processes...

 programme (until 2010 known as the eDemocracy Programme) was the first research unit dedicated to examining the political and social impact of information and communications technology (ICT). They also conduct research and evaluation; producing commentary and analysis on the latest new media developments and their impact on parliament, government and civil society, including digital participation, engagement, political campaigning and the parliamentary process. The programme was led until 2011 by Dr Andy Williamson, a well known researcher and commentator on digital democracy.

The Digital Democracy programme, in conjunction with the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

, established the Lords of the Blog website in 2008 to educate, raise awareness and engage with the public on a range of issues regarding the role and business of the House of Lords. Lord Norton, one of the contributors to the blog, has since been described as "a new star of the blogosphere."

The Ministry of Justice commissioned the programme in 2005 to conduct "an independent review of ways in which central government can use information and communication technology (ICT) to enable and enhance public engagement", called Digital Dialogues.

Parliament and Government

The Parliament & Government programme undertakes research on political and constitutional reform. In recent years, they have worked on the issues of Parliamentary scrutiny and government accountability, political representation, the process of law making, and public engagement.

Working closely with parliamentarians, government, the media and the public to consider a range of issues relevant to parliamentary democracy, the programme has made many influential recommendations for parliamentary reform. The Society's publication, The Fiscal Maze: Parliament, Government and Public Money, encouraged the House of Commons Liaison Committee
Liaison Committee
The Liaison Committee is a topical committee of the British House of Commons, the lower house of the United Kingdom Parliament. The committee consists of the Chairmen of the 32 Commons Select Committees and the chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights....

 to examine the issue of parliamentary scrutiny of government expenditure, and the research A Year in the Life: From member of public to Member of Parliament was quoted at length by the Modernisation Committee
Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons
The Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons was a temporary select committee of the House of Commons in the Parliament of the United Kingdom that was created early in the 1997, 2001, and 2005 Parliaments...

 in its inquiry Revitalising the Chamber: the role of the back bench Member.

The programme also publishes an annual Audit of Political Engagement, examining the characteristics and trends in public attitudes to politics.

Study and Scholars

In 1985 the Society, in conjunction with the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

, established the Hansard Scholars and Hansard Research Scholars programme, which organise study programmes and internships in Westminister. The Study and Scholars programme also works with the Foreign Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly called the Foreign Office or the FCO is a British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom overseas, created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.The head of the FCO is the...

 and the British Council
British Council
The British Council is a United Kingdom-based organisation specialising in international educational and cultural opportunities. It is registered as a charity both in England and Wales, and in Scotland...

 to provide courses for future political leaders from around the world.

In addition to this core work, the programme has expanded to include training for charities, journalists, companies and other organisations that need to understand how the parliamentary system works.


As a registered charity, the Hansard Society relies on funding from individual donations, grants from charitable trusts and foundations, corporate sponsorship, and donations from individual parliamentarians from Westminster and the devolved institutions.

Selected publications

  • Parliament, Politics and Law Making: Issues and Developments in the Legislative Process (2004) by A. Brazier (ed), ISBN 978-0900432-57-6.
  • New Politics, New Parliament? A review of parliamentary modernisation since 1997 (2005) by A. Brazier, M. Flinders & D. McHugh, ISBN 978-0900432-62-0.
  • A Year in the Life: From member of public to Member of Parliament (2006) by G. Rosenblatt, ISBN 978-0900432-58-3.
  • The Fiscal Maze: Parliament, Government and Public Money (2006) by A. Brazier & V. Ram, ISBN 978-0900432-08-8.
  • Parliament in the Public Eye 2006: Coming into Focus? (2006) by G. Rosenblatt, ISBN 978-0900432-43-9.
  • Friend or Foe: Lobbying in British democracy (2007) by Dr P. Parvin, ISBN 978-0900432-63-7.
  • An audit of political engagement 4 (2007) by Hansard Society & Electoral Commission
    Electoral Commission (United Kingdom)
    The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. It regulates party and election finance and sets standards for well-run elections...

  • No Overall Control? The impact of a 'hung parliament' on British politics (2008) by A. Brazier & S. Kalitowski (eds), ISBN 978-0900432-29-3.
  • Audit of Political Engagement 5 with a special focus on the Constitution (2008) by Hansard Society, ISBN 978-0900432-34-7.
  • Law in the Making: Influence and Change in the Legislative Process (2008) by A. Brazier, S. Kalitowski & G. Rosenblatt with M. Korris, ISBN 978-0900432-39-2.
  • Audit of Political Engagement 6 with a focus on Political Participation and Citizenship (2009) by Hansard Society, ISBN 978-0900432-44-6.
  • Audit of Political Engagement 7 with a focus on MPs and Parliament (2010) by Hansard Society, ISBN 978-0900432-49-1.
  • Making Better Law: Reform of the legislative process from policy to Act (2010) by R. Fox & M. Korris, ISBN 978-0900432-78-1.
  • Audit of Political Engagement 8 with a focus on coalition politics, civic involvement and the Big Society (2011) by Hansard Society, ISBN 978-0900432-79-8.

The journal Parliamentary Affairs
Parliamentary Affairs
Parliamentary Affairs is a British peer-reviewed quarterly academic journal. Founded in 1947, it focuses on the government and politics of the United Kingdom, and also covers parliamentary systems across the world...

is jointly published by Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

 and the Hansard Society.

External links

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