Information and resources
Every university library will have a number of useful reference works. The best known is Dod's Parliamentary Companion, which is updated each year and provides biographical information on MPs, peers and MEPs. In addition, it has a very helpful list of MPs and peers according to their policy interests. It also gives the officers of backbench committees and all-party groups. This will help you identify which parliamentarians are likely to be interested in your work.
Other useful publications on how Parliament and Whitehall work include:
- The Civil Service Year Book (The Stationery Office website)
- The White Book (The Stationery Office website)
- Dods People website – details of all government ministers, MPs, parliamentary officials and senior civil servants
- List of ministerial responsibilities (Cabinet Office website)
All government departments have their own websites, which can be accessed through the Directgov website. This is the portal site for all information on UK government and links to a wide variety of national bodies.
Departmental websites provide charts showing how each department is structured, and then work through the entire hierarchy, giving information on all the policy areas covered by named civil servants. You can use these to identify which officials to contact with information arising from your research.
You will also find information such as ministerial biographies, departmental press releases and consultation papers. You can also use the relevant department's website to gain some insight into the degree to which your work is relevant to the policies being developed and implemented by government.
The UK Parliament website allows you to:
- access the transcripts of debates
- identify the members of select and standing committees
- obtain information about the progress of select committee inquiries
- see what business has been scheduled in both Houses for the following week.
You can use its search engine to find references to the subject area and learn which MPs and peers have taken an active interest in the issue.
Every Thursday afternoon during the parliamentary session, the government announces the business that will be dealt with by the House of Commons and the House of Lords the following week.
You should get into the habit of checking the UK Parliament website on Friday mornings to find out if there will be any relevant debates, questions, select committee meetings and standing committee sessions the next week. If there are, you can write to MPs and peers who will be involved in those activities.
The sites for parliaments in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Europe are:
- Scottish Parliament website
- Welsh Assembly website
- Northern Ireland Assembly website
- European Parliament
Research sections for Government Departments:
- Department for Business Innovations and Skills (BIS)
- Communities and Local Government
- Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
- Department for Education
- Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
- HM Revenue and Customs
- Home Office
- The Scottish Government
- Welsh Assembly Government
- Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
- Food Standards Agency
- Youth Justice Board (YJB)
Other useful links:
- Local Authorities and Research Councils Initiative (RCUK website)
Brings together the UK's Research Councils and all the main Local Government organisations to help create a robust research and development capacity that serves local government policy and practice