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UK Legislation

There are a variety of electronic and print resources available in the Learning Resource Centres to enable you to find UK primary legislation (UK Statutes or Acts of Parliament) and UK secondary legislation (UK Statutory Instruments).  Find out more about them by clicking on the links below.

Quick links:
A - Z list of law resources
Finding legislation home
Law resources home page

About UK legislation

Legislation databases

Print legislation

Parliamentary publications


Internet resources

About UK legislation

What is UK legislation?

  • UK Primary legislation
    UK Statutes (also known as Acts of Parliament or Public General Acts) are the primary legislation enacted by the UK Parliament sitting at Westminster.  Many UK Statutes apply either wholly or in part to Northern Ireland. You can find out which sections, if any, of  a UK Statute apply to Northern Ireland by checking the Extent section at the end of the statute.  You can find out more about legislation which affects Northern Ireland on the Northern Ireland legislation page of this guide. 
  • UK Secondary (or delegated) legislation (SIs)
    UK Statutory Instruments (also known as delegated or secondary legislation) provide detail which would be too complex or lengthy to include in the main UK Statute. 

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Legislation databases

Using legislation databases

The library subscribes to a range of databases which you can use to find the full text of all UK legislation.  Those databases are listed below.  You can select a database by clicking on the title.  
Recommended databases are those which the law librarians feel are the best place to start your search.  Remember that these databases are best for UK (Westminster) legislation - go to the Northern Ireland legislation page for more information about NI Statutes (including NI Orders in Council).

You will need Athens authentication to access most library databases.  Use the Passwords Guide to find out more about library passwords.

Remember that if you cannot find the case you need then ask a librarian for help.


Coverage details

Westlaw UK



A good place to start for UK Statutes and Statutory Instruments..  You can access the full text of all UK statutes currently in force using the Westlaw database.  The database also provides the full text of repealed statutes passed after 1992.  

Westlaw also provides useful related Information including information on commencement, status and pending amendments to statutes as well as links to citing cases and relevant journal articles where available.



Contains the full, amended text of all public general Acts of Parliament, with annotations detailing amendments and commencement dates.  It also includes UK Statutory Instruments and Acts of the Scottish parliament. 




UK Statutes
- Full text of Acts of the Westminster Parliament from 1235, including the full text of repealed legislation.  This is particularly useful where legislation has been repealed for England and Wales but remains in force in Northern Ireland.

UK Statutory Instruments - covers Statutory Instruments from 1949 onwards and includes Northern Ireland Orders in Council. 

Halsbury's Online 

Electronic version of Halsbury's Laws, the major legal encyclopaedia, available via LexisLibrary.  Use this database to find cases and legislation in a particular subject area.

More law databases

The databases listed on this page have been selected because they are particularly useful to help you find legislation.  You can view a full list of law databases by clicking on the link on the left.

Social sciences databases

You can use this list of databases on those occasions when you need to consult material in more general social science subject areas such as economics, government etc. 
You can also browse through the complete list of databases provided by the library.

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Print legislation

In addition to electronic resources the library subscribes to several series of print legislation. The major print sources are listed below.  Click on the title to find location and the years held (if any) on each campus.  You  can use the title search option of the library catalogue if you are looking for a particular print publication.

  • Public General Acts
    This official series of annual bound volumes gathers together all UK Acts of Parliament.  Alphabetical and chronological lists of all Acts are included at the front of each annual volume. 

    Chronological Table of the Statutes
    Along with the annual volumes there is an accompanying Chronological Table of the Statutes which lists all statutes currently in force and indicates which sections have been amended or repealed. 

    Index to the Statutes
    The Index to the Statutes lists statutes under alphabetical subject headings and sub-headings.
  • Halsbury's Statutes
    Halsbury's Statutes provides the amended text of all UK legislation in force.  Statutes are arranged alphabetically by subject within each volume. The volumes are regularly re-issued in more up-to-date versions with the date of reissue indicated on the spine of the volume. The set is further updated by an annual Cumulative Supplement and a comprehensive looseleaf updating and noter up service.  An annual Consolidated Index, an annual Consolidated Table of Cases and an annual Halsbury's Statutes Citator are also provided.
    It is important to make sure that you are consulting the most up to date legislation in Halsbury's Statutes.  There is a useful Halsbury's Statutes User Guide at the front of the Current Statutes Service Volume A which will help you use the volumes correctly.

    Is it in force?

    There is an accompanying Is it in force? service which you can use to check whether legislation is in force or repealed.  It will indicate the Statutory Instruments which brought the Act into force and, where applicable, the legislation by which the Act was repealed. 
  • Halsbury's Statutory Instruments
    A collection of UK Statutory Instruments currently in force arranged in subject volumes.  The most important Statutory Instruments  are reproduced in full with annotations while the rest are in summary form.  Volumes are continually reissued and an additional looseleaf Service binder brings the set up to date. 
    As well as an annual Consolidated Index and annual Citator volume there is an annual EC Legislation Implementator volume.  This is a guide to European legislation implementation by UK Statutory Instrument.
  • Current Law Statutes Annotated
    In Current Statutes Statutes Annotated bound volumes statutes are printed as they were originally published (i.e. without subsequent amendments) but with some notes. These notes are particularly useful for tracing pre-legislative information such as Command Papers, details of Parliamentary debates on the Bill etc.  The statutes are arranged chronologically.  Looseleaf service volumes accompany the set and print Acts which have been passed recently without any accompanying annotations.  The Current Awareness Service File looseleaf volume includes a useful Parliamentary Debates Table which lists Hansard references for substantive debates in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords for Public General Acts from 1950 onwards.


  • Commentaries

    Current Law Monthly Digest
    Current Law is published in monthly parts called Monthly Digests.  It is arranged by subject and provides summaries of new statutes and statutory instruments in addition to case law, government reports books and journal articles under each subject heading.

    Current Law Year Book
    At the end of each year the Current Law Yearbook is published which replaces that year's Monthly Digests.  The Yearbook is also arranged by subject and summarises all the legislation, case law and other legal developments in each subject during the year.  Current Law Yearbooks can be useful for tracing historical legal information which may not be covered in the legal databases.  There are accompanying Current Statute Citator and Statutory Instrument Citator volumes which list all amendments, modifications, repeals etc to primary and secondary legislation.  These volumes are available electronically on the Westlaw UK database.  Select the UK Legisation Locators search option on the Westlaw welcome screen.

    Halsbury's Laws of England

    This major legal encyclopaedia covers all areas of English law and is the print alternative to Halsbury's Online via LexisNexis Butterworth.  You can use it to find out the legislation in force in a particular subject area.  Where appropriate volumes are reissued in more up-to-date versions. An annual Cumulative Supplement and looseleaf Current Service and noter up binders bring the set further up to date.

    Halsbury's Laws of England Annual Abridgments
    Published since 1974, these annual volumes summarise all the changes in the law during a particular year (legislation and case law).  References are also included to relevant European Community and Commonwealth legal changes.

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UK Parliamentary publications


  • Parliamentary Debates (Hansard): House of Commons
    Parliamentary Debates
    (Hansard): House of Lords
    Hansard is the official record of the proceedings of Parliament. House of Lords and House of Commons debates are published in separate sequences.  The bound volumes contain debates held during the parliamentary session and an index to each session is also published. 
    There is free access to both House of Lords and House of Commons Hansard from 1988 onwards on the UK Parliament web site.  This site also includes the Weekly Information Bulletin which tracks the progress of legislation through parliament, provides details of the work being carried out by parliamentary committees and lists new green and white papers.  You can access this site from the legislation section of the UU Guide to Internet Resources for Law
  • Current Law Statutes Annotated
    The bound volumes of Current Statutes Statutes Annotated provides notes to each statute giving details of Parliamentary debates on the Bill etc.  The Current Awareness Service File looseleaf volume includes a useful Parliamentary Debates Table which lists Hansard references for substantive debates in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords for Public General Acts from 1950 onwards.

Parliamentary papers and government publications

  • The library does not have a comprehensive collection of official publications such as command papers, white papers and records of the proceedings in Parliamentary committees (Standing Committee or Select Committee).  However if you have publication details  you should check the library catalogue to see if the library holds a particular item or report etc. Many are bought when published and are added to the book stock. As such, each will be catalogued individually and have their own classification number.
  • UU Guide to Internet Resources for Law.
    Proceedings of all recent House of Commons and House of Lords Parliamentary Committees, as well as government White and Green papers are freely available on the web.  You can access these sites from in the legislation section of the UU Guide.
  • Current Law Statutes Annotated
    As well as giving details of parliamentary debates on Bills, the bound volumes of Current Statutes Statutes Annotated provides extremely comprehensive notes giving details of all relevant documents relating to the Act concerned including Green Papers, White Papers and Consultative Documents .  It is an extremely useful publication if you are unsure of the official material published relating to legislation which has been passed.  Publication details, relevant web sites if the document is freely available online and other useful background information is provided.
  • LRDI - Legal and Regulatory Developments Index
    The LRDI database provides entries for or abstracts of legal and regulatory documents released by governmental and quasi-governmental bodies of the United Kingdom and the European Union. Coverage begins with January 1994 and documents covered include command papers and other parliamentary publications.  Links are not provided to the full text of documents though you can use LRDI to search for publications by topic.  Once you have full publication details you can then search the library catalogue to check if the publication is held in one of the university libraries.    You can access LRDI through Westlaw UK  (use Westlaw International directory search) or Current Legal Information.

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Internet resources

  • UU Guide to Internet Resources for Law
    All new UK legislation, both Statutes and Statutory Instruments, are made freely available on the internet.   The aim is to publish these documents on the Internet simultaneously or at least within 24 hours of their publication in printed form. 
    In addition a wide range of government reports, including Green Papers, White Papers, Parliamentary Committee Reports and others, are also made freely available on the internet.
    Click on the Legislation link to find out more about the range of internet resources available to access legislation and other official government publications.

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Last updated: 07/07/10
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