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Cape of Good Hope Colony: Government Publications: Library Guide: Parliament

Guide to the publications of the Cape of Good Hope Colony

Cape of Good Hope Parliament

The Cape of Good Hope Colonial Parliament comprised the Legislative Council as the upper house and the House of Assembly as the lower house. It was presided over by the Governor. From 1854 to 1872 the Parliament was 'representative' and from 1872 to 1909 it was 'responsible.'

Select Committees

Select Committees were appointed by both houses of Parliament. The committees consisted of members of Parliament. They would investigate issues of importance, call for evidence from members of the public and publish reports. We have a few individual reports, but mostly they are in the bound volumes of Select Committee Reports G 682 E4 or Appendix II @ G 682 E3. Early reports had the series number S.C. Later ones had the series number A.S.C. for House of Assembly committees and C.S.C. for Legislative Council committees. 


Parliamentary papers

Parliamentary papers included the working papers of Parliament (e.g., Debates/Hansard, Votes and proceedings, Bills, Acts), papers produced by committees (e.g., committee reports and minutes of evidence) and papers presented (i.e. tabled) to Parliament by outside bodies (e.g., annual reports, reports of commissions, financial publications.)

The greatest number of government papers presented to Parliament were in the G series, which were papers "presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of His Excellency the Governor." G papers included annual reports of departments, estimates of revenue and expenditure, financial statements, reports of commissions of inquiry and other investigations, surveys and reports on specific topics. We have individual copies of G papers as well as copies bound in the volumes of Annexures G 682 E1 and Appendix I G 682 E5. Most of the G papers were published in folio size, but some were published in octavo and were bound in the Appendix II volumes G 682 E3.

A papers were published by order of the House of Assembly and C papers by order of the Legislative Council. These were mostly petitions and returns. 

The A, C and G paper numbers are important for identifying papers and locating them in libraries.


The Debates or Hansard (named after the British publisher of debates) are the verbatim records of the proceedings in the House of Assembly. From 1854 to 1884 the Debates were reported in the newspapers: 1854-1869 in the South African Commercial Advertiser, 1870-1875 in the Standard and Mail and 1876-1883 in the Cape Times. The microfilm newspapers may be found in the African Studies Collection. Use the Votes and proceedings of the House of Assembly to establish dates before consulting the newspapers. The 1854 debates were printed from the newspapers in one volume. 

Debates of the House of Assembly, 1854, 1884-1909. G 682 D1

Debates of the Legislative Council, 1885-1909. G 682 D2

Votes and proceedings

The Votes and proceedings are the preliminary records of the House of Assembly sittings. They include minutes, votes on legislation, lists of papers tabled in Parliament, lists of petitions and bills. For some years the House of Assembly and Legislative Council Votes and proceedings are bound together in one volume.  Many of the House of Assembly volumes include the Acts passed in that year and a few Legislative Council volumes include C papers.