Directory update: the Mitchell Library


I’m very pleased to say our entry for the Mitchell Library is up-to-date again, after far too long. Thanks very much to Librarian Alison Young for the information.

The Mitchell’s OP Reference collection contains the following:

  • Scottish Parliamentary papers including Bills 1999 – 2009
  • Scottish Acts and Statutory Instruments 1999 – date
  • House of Commons Papers (including Bills and Command Papers) 1715 – 2009
  • House of Lords Papers 1884 – 2009
  • Public General Acts 1225 – 2013 (bound copies only, 2013 is the most recent we have)
  • Local and Personal Acts 1895 – 1922
  • Acts of Parliament of Scotland  1124 – 1707
  • House of Commons Hansard 1803 – 2013 (bound copies only, 2013 is the most recent we have
  • House of Lords Hansard 1909- 2013 (bound copies only, 2013 is the most recent we have)
  • United States Congressional Record 1882 -1937

Please take a look at the Mitchell’s Directory entry for full details


SWOP Directory updates

SWOP directory

Take a look at the recently updated Directory entries for the following organisations (in no particular order):

If you haven’t updated your entry this year it has now been archived – but fear not! It is never too late to have an entry amended or added to the directory. Please see here or  email me.

A tale of a Government cat — Open Book

“The Exchequer Office in Parliament Close, Edinburgh, set up in 1708, initially had problems with records being ‘greatly damnified, eaten and destroyed by rates and myce’. After giving the matter some thought, doorkeeper Robert Morison decided that perhaps a cat might give the rodents pause.”

While the exploits of Whitehall Cats – Palmerston and Larry most recently – have been recently making the news, cats in Government employ are nothing new. In fact, here at National Records of Scotland, we have evidence of a feline curiosity – a cat tasked with protecting records more than three centuries ago. The Exchequer […]

via A tale of a Government cat — Open Book

Directory highlight: Aberdeen University Library Special Collections & Museums

The Library holds extensive collections of UK and Scottish Parliamentary Publications. This includes House of Commons Papers and Bills, Command Papers, House of Lords Papers and Bills, House of Commons Parliamentary and Committee Debates, House of Lords Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons and House of Lords Journals and the Acts of Parliament. Scottish titles include Scottish Parliamentary Papers, The Official Report of the Scottish Parliament and all Parliamentary Committees, Bills and accompanying papers, Scottish Acts and the Scottish Executive/Government Papers. There are holdings of reports, policy documents and official statistics including Census documents from the UK and Scottish Governments.

Aberdeen University is a European Documentation Centre and receives copies of official publications from the European Union.

The collection includes publications from a wide range of international organisations including the United Nations, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, The Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.

Thanks to Alison Steed for the update. Full details are available on the Aberdeen University Library Directory page

Directory highlight: Advocates Library

The Advocates Library has a  large collection of UK legislation, from Scottish Acts in Regiam Majestatem (published in 1597) and Acts of King Henry VIII (published in 1551) to the Acts of the Scottish Parliament / Public, General Acts available  today. We also have Local, personal and private acts from 1798-. We hold a collection of UK Statutory Instruments not reprinted in publishers bound volumes and copies of Draft Statutory Instruments.

In addition to this UK Official Publications material we also have legislation from a large number of foreign jurisdictions during colonial periods, as well as some of more recent dates.

For information on accessing Advocates Library materials via the NLS reading rooms see our full entry in the Directory

Directory highlight: Marine Scotland Science

The collection of Marine Scotland Science contains their own publications as well as Fisheries Research Services and Fishery Board for Scotland publications (previous names of Marine Scotland Science). These include sea fisheries statistics, Marine Research, Fishery Bulletin and annual reports of the Fishery Board of Scotland. It also includes copies of all reports published by the Marine or Freshwater Fisheries Laboratories. Publications from other bodies are collected where there is relevance to MSS’s work.

The collection is held at the Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen, with publications relating to freshwater held at the Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory near Pitlochry.

Thank you Helen McGregor for the update. Please see the Directory entry for full details

SWOP Directory highlight – Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA)

The SASA collection contains publications by Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture e.g. pesticide usage in Scotland surveys, pesticide poisoning of animals reports, annual reports. It also holds publications of other Scottish and UK bodies where relevant to SASA’s work e.g. DEFRA, Forestry Commission, Scottish Natural Heritage. Additionally it includes historical material from, for example, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland (DAFS) and Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food (MAFF).

Thanks to Jill Tivey for the update. For more details visit SASA’s entry in the SWOP Directory

Birds nest manuscript – National Records of Scotland

Shredded historical documents used to line a birds nest.This is interesting …and weird!

FYI: the exchequer office was, I believe, located in the building which now houses the Supreme Courts Library. Maybe the SCTS Library Service should keep an eye out for jackdaws!

Or, you could have a look for yourself when you attend the next SWOP meeting being hosted there! (see what I did?)

Open Book

We have a number of curiosities in our archives, but one of the odder items is the contents of a birds’ nest.

No ordinary nest, this one, found in the roof of St Giles Cathedral in 1961, was lined with papers from Scotland’s exchequer records.

Shredded historical documents used to line a birds nest. The contents of a birds nest found in St Giles cathedral by Dr Athol Murray.

Keeper of the Records of Scotland from 1985-1990 Dr Athol Murray identified the documents. He takes up the story:

“In 1961 The Scottish Record Office received some papers found by electricians in the roof space of St Giles Cathedral.

“A few were complete, including a copy of the Edinburgh Court from the 1770s, and I recognised others as being torn bits of exchequer documents, mainly eighteenth century.

“I was sent up to have a look around and found more torn papers surrounded by masses and masses of twigs and general…

View original post 176 more words

The public and Parliament: more engaged, less satisfied – Hansard Society audit

One of the most positive findings for Parliament is that a clear majority believes that it is essential “to our democracy” (73% – equaling 2016’s record score).

However, people do not think that parliament is doing a good job for them. Fewer than a third of people were satisfied with the way that parliament works, and not many more think parliament is doing a good job of representing their interests (38%).

Knowledge of parliament fell in the latest study; 45% claimed to know a great deal or a fair amount about parliament, down from 52% last year. This is similar to the level of knowledge about politics in general (49%) and the European Union (43%).

Increasing engagement with parliament
There were positive indicators around engagement with Parliament: overall just over half the public say they have engaged with Parliament in some way in the last year – a ten point increase from 2015. Also:

  • The proportion of the public who report watching or listening to a parliamentary debate or committee meeting (online, on TV or on radio) has increased from 31% to 39%
  • The number saying they have signed an e-petition is up from 15% to 22%
  • 12% contacted an MP or Peer with their views.

Some if this could be down to the seismic political events of the past year – public interest in Brexit and high-profile e-petitions on topics like Donald Trump’s proposed state visit will have increased people’s appetite to engage.

Arguably the most positive indicator in the study is the score on certainty to vote. 59% of respondents said that they would be certain to vote in an immediate general election. This is the highest recorded score in the 14 years of the Audit (joint with 2016). We won’t have to wait long to see if this is borne out.

Engagement by age
The overall message of this year’s report could be “increasingly engaged, but not satisfied”. However, looking at the data for younger people, the picture is bleaker. Variables on engagement, knowledge and effectiveness all show lower scores for younger age groups.

Other data used within chapter 2 of our briefing on political engagement shows a similar pattern – in December 2015, 67% of 20-24 year olds were registered to vote, compared with 93% of 55-64 year olds. IPSOS-Mori estimate that turnout of 18-24 year olds was 43% at the 2015 General Election, compared with 77% for 55-64 year olds.

The test
Arguably, the key indicator for engagement with politics and parliament is turnout at a general election. In 2015, turnout across the UK was 66%, slightly up on 2010, but still well below levels seen in the 20th Century.

The Audit provides some grounds for optimism; a record percentage were certain to vote. But again, this score varies significantly by age, from around two in five for 18-24 year olds, to four in five for over 65s. There are also large variations by social grade (ABs are most certain to vote), by qualification level and by income.

There will be many groups working to encourage participation in June’s general election; the challenge for them is not just whether they can increase overall turnout, but also whether they can increase participation among the young and other less politically engaged groups. If we accept that politics and Parliament are more effective when they represent the views of all constituents, Parliament too has a job to do encouraging everyone to register to vote. It is likely that if you are reading a Commons Library blog post you’re probably already going to vote in June, but perhaps someone you know isn’t. The deadline to register is 22nd May – please motivate someone you know to register and use their vote.


  • Founded in 1944, the Hansard Society is a non-partisan research and education charity working in the UK and around the world to promote democracy and strengthen parliaments.
  • The information in this year’s Audit of Political Engagement is based on a Political Engagement Poll undertaken by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Hansard Society. The findings are based on a total of 1,771 face-to-face interviews with adults aged 18+ conducted between 2 December 2016 and 15 January 2017, which have then been weighted to the national population profile of Great Britain. This is the 14th year of the Audit, which began in 2004.
  • During the general election campaign, the Commons Library will not be publishing new briefings; Parliament’s Participation team will be encouraging people to register, to cast their vote on the 8 June and to continue to engage with Parliament following the election.

Picture credit: The British Parliament and Big Ben by MauriceCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0)