The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) is a ministerial department which provides support to the work of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, the Law Officers of the Crown. The Attorney General is the Chief Legal Adviser to the Crown and a government minister with responsibility for all Crown litigation, overseeing the work of the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office and other bodies. This section of the GOV.UK web site has information on the AGO’s activities, announcements and publications. There is a quick link to the Attorney General’s Guidelines for prosecutors and other guidance to the legal profession, covering such matters as disclosure of material and the acceptance of pleas.
The Cabinet Office has been described as the “head office” of government. It is a ministerial department which performs a variety of functions in support of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, including some aspects of Civil Service staffing management and the reform of the Civil Service. This section of the GOV.UK web site provides access to information on its activities, policies, announcements and publications, and to information more widely across the whole government. Specific Cabinet Office publications such as the Ministerial Code and the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers may best be found via a Publications search.
The Civil Service Commission is a non-departmental public body, independent of Government and of the Civil Service, which regulates recruitment to the Civil Service and hears complaints under the Civil Service Code. Site content includes the Civil Service Code and related guidance, recruitment guidance, annual reports 1996-1997 onwards, and information on the complaints procedure.
The role of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in England and Wales is to regulate, monitor, report and advise on appointments made by UK ministers and by members of the National Assembly for Wales to the boards of around 1100 national and regional public bodies. The post was created in response to the publication in 1995 of the Nolan Committee’s first report on Standards in Public Life (Cm 2850). Publications on the site include annual reports 1997-98 onwards, a code of practice, a complaints leaflet and other guidance.
The Commissioner regulates the process by which many of the public appointments in Northern Ireland are made. The post was created in 1995 in response to the publication of the Nolan Committee’s first report on Standards in Public Life (Cm 2850). Publications on the site include annual reports 2000/2001 onwards, a code of practice, a complaints leaflet and other guidance.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was formed on 14 July 2016 from a merger of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Its responsibilities include business, industrial strategy, science, innovation, energy and climate change. This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on its activities, policies, publications and announcements.
Responsibilities of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) include the arts and culture; sports and leisure; equality, rights and citizenship; and some aspects of the media and communications (eg broadcasting). This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on the department’s activities, policies, announcements and publications. Publications include the Register of Licensed Public Spaces in England and Wales.
The Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for education and children’s services in England. It was formed on 12 May 2010, replacing the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on the department’s activities, policies, announcements, consultations and publications. There are sections on statutory guidance for schools and local authorities and on the constitution of governing bodies.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in England. This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on Defra’s activities, policies, announcements, consultations, publications and statistics.
The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) was established in July 2016, with responsibility for overseeing negotiations relating to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union and establishing the future relationship between the UK and the EU. This section of the GOV.UK site has information on the Article 50 process and other matters, announcements, and publications which include policy papers and position papers.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is responsible for the English transport network and for transport matters in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland which are not devolved. This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on the department’s activities, policies, publications and announcements. Specific publications such as traffic advisory leaflets, ‘Roads’ circulars, and guidance for local authorities on street works, may best be found by conducting a Publications search.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policy in the UK. Content in this section of the GOV.UK site includes press releases and recent consultation documents. Among many other publications are the two extensive sets of guidance documents provided for DWP staff who make decisions about pensions, benefits and allowances – the Decision Makers’ Guide and Advice for Decision Making.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was created in October 2008 to take responsibility for the government’s energy policy and climate change mitigation policy. On 14 July 2016 it was merged with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to form the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. DECC’s announcements, publications, consultations and statistics may still be accessed here on the GOV.UK web site.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is responsible for government policy on health, adult social care and the National Health Service in England. (In the rest of the UK these responsibilities fall to the devolved governments.) This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on the department’s activities, policies, publications, announcements, consultations and statistics. Publications include recent letters and Local Authority Circulars: for older ones it may be necessary to search in the old Department of Health web site, which was last archived in February 2013 by the National Archives’ UK Government Web Archive.
This regulatory body came into being in 2013 and exercises the functions of three former bodies: the Commission for Ethical Standards, the Public Standards Commissioner for Scotland and the Public Appointments Commissioner for Scotland. The Commissioner investigates complaints about the conduct of MSPs, local authority councillors and members of public bodies and also regulates how people are appointed to the boards of public bodies in Scotland. The Decisions available on the website extend back to 2003. The “Links” section gives access to the Code of Conduct for MSPs, the Councillors’ Code of Conduct and the Model Code of Conduct for Members of Devolved Public Bodies. The current Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies in Scotland is available on the site itself, along with previous editions of various codes.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) promotes the interests of the UK abroad. This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on the FCO’s activities, policies, publications and announcements. Note that information on treaties, including the UK Treaties Online (UKTO) database maintained by the FCO Treaty Section, is not readily accessible from this web page: see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-treaties.
GOV.UK is being developed to provide a single consolidated domain for all UK government services and information. It was launched in October 2012, replacing the former Directgov and Business Link sites. The process of merging the content of many other separate web sites began in November 2012 and is still in progress, though the sites of all government departments and many other agencies and public bodies have now been merged.
GOV.Wales is the new web site of the devolved Welsh Government (known until May 2011 as the Welsh Assembly Government), whose areas of responsibility include the economy, health, education and local government. Much of the site content is arranged under broad topics, eg health and social care, housing, transport, etc. Other sections provide news, publications, and details of current consultations. Welsh legislation is accessible via “About Us”; this includes current Bills, Measures 2008-2011, Acts 2011 onwards, general Statutory Instruments (via a link to the Legislation.gov.uk site), local Statutory Instruments, and non-Statutory Instruments (eg codes of practice and compulsory purchase orders).
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is a non-ministerial department whose main responsibility is the collection of taxes. It was created by the merger on 18 April 2005 of the former Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise. This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on HMRC’s activities, policies, publications and announcements. The section “Tax agents and advisers” has content relevant particularly to the work of tax and other professionals, including forms, guidance, manuals and statements of practice.
The Treasury is responsible for the UK government’s financial and economic policy. This section of the GOV.UK web site provides current information on the Treasury’s activities, policies, publications and announcements.
The Home Office is a ministerial department whose responsibilities include borders and immigration, drugs policy, crime and policing, counter-terrorism and national security. The Home Office section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on its activities, policies, announcements, consultations, publications and statistics. Publications include Home Office Circulars 2003 onwards, accessible via a search under the publication type “News and Communications”. Other publications accessible by searching include the PACE codes of practice.
Justice is a government portal site aimed at practitioners which formerly provided access to information on over 50 government departments, agencies, inspectorates and other bodies involved in the justice system. Much of this content has now been transferred to the GOV.UK site. Content still on this site relates mainly to courts and tribunals and includes court hearing lists and procedure rules.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is responsible for implementing UK defence policy and manages the British Armed Forces. This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on the ministry’s activities, policies, publications and announcements. Specific legal or other publications such as the Manual of Service Law and reports of Service Inquiries may best be found by conducting a Publications search.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG – formerly the Department for Communities and Local Government) is a ministerial department with responsibilities which include regional and local government, planning, building regulations, housing, homelessness, social exclusion, and fire and rescue services. This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on the department’s activities, policies, publications and announcements. Specific publications, such as guidance, consultation papers, circulars, statistics and research reports, may best be found by conducting a Publications search.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is responsible for the various parts of the justice system including the courts, prisons, probation services and attendance centres. This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on the MoJ’s activities, policies, announcements, publications, consultations and statistics.
The National Archives is the official archive of the UK government, responsible for looking after the records of central government and the courts of law and for making them as widely accessible as possible. It is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. The site has an extensive range of research guides and other information, including an online catalogue (“Discovery”) containing more than 32 million descriptions of records. For archived digital government information, including archived “snapshots” of current and defunct government department web sites, select the home page quick link to “UK Government Web Archive”.
The Northern Ireland Executive is the executive arm of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the province’s devolved legislature. It assumed control of Northern Ireland from the UK government’s Northern Ireland Office on 8 May 2007, when a period of direct rule was brought to an end and devolution resumed. Its web site has the text of the Ministerial Code, Executive statements, news releases, and links to web sites of individual NI government departments.
The Northern Ireland Office is the UK government department responsible for Northern Ireland affairs including oversight of the Northern Ireland devolution settlement. Publications available here on the GOV.UK web site relate largely to constitutional and security issues, law and order, policing and criminal justice. They include policy papers, reports and guidance. Information on the Northern Ireland devolution settlement includes links to legislation.
The Leader of the House of Commons is the Cabinet minister responsible for arranging government business, including the introduction of government Bills, in the House of Commons. Information here on the GOV.UK web site includes the Business Statements, made each Thursday when the House is sitting and announcing the business for the following week and provisional business for the subsequent week.
The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel (OPC) consists of a specialised team of lawyers with support staff, whose main work is drafting government Bills for introduction into Parliament and related Parliamentary business. Forming part of the Cabinet Office, it was formerly known as the Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO). In this section of the GOV.UK site there is information on the OPC’s role and links to various publications such as the OPC’s guidance on drafting.
This site, formerly administered by the Stationery Office (TSO) and now archived by the National Archives, covers all Command Papers and departmentally sponsored House of Commons Papers (HCPs) from 17 May 2005 (the beginning of the 2005/06 parliamentary session) to January 2014. Texts are provided in pdf format. There is also a selection of earlier Command Papers, HCPs and other key government papers going back to 1951/52. Command Papers in particular are often important as providing the background to particular pieces of legislation, including as they do statements of government policy which are familiarly known as “White Papers”. (Note: the primary online source for new Command Papers is now the GOV.UK site, with coverage there from January 1993 onwards.)
The Privy Council Office provides a secretariat to the Privy Council and acts as the Judicial Committee Office to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC). Much of its day-to-day work is concerned with the affairs of bodies incorporated by Royal Charter and of certain UK statutory regulatory bodies, mostly within the medical professions. The site contains a chronological list of all Charters granted since the 13th century. Other content includes an alphabetical list of all current Privy Counsellors, and lists (without text) of all Orders in Council made since October 2000. The JCPC has had its own separate web site since 2009 but Privy Council judgments up to August 2009 remain in the Judicial Committee section of this site.
Public Bodies is an annual directory published by the Cabinet Office which provides information on non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) sponsored by the UK government. All editions from 1997 to the current one are available (1997 and 1998 directly, 1999 onwards as downloads) via this page on the GOV.UK web site.
The Scottish Government, which was called the Scottish Executive until September 2007, has responsibilities under devolution legislation which include the economy, health, education, justice, rural affairs, housing, environment, transport and taxation. The web site contains full text Scottish Executive/Government publications 1983 onwards (selective coverage for the earliest years), documents relating to current consultations (and closed consultations, 2012 onwards), and an extensive set of links to Scottish government and public bodies. Access to Bills and Acts is via links to various sites including the Scottish Parliament and Legislation.gov.uk.
The London Gazette (first published 1665), Edinburgh Gazette (first published 1699, content available online 1796 onwards) and Belfast Gazette (first published 1921) are the official newspapers of record of the United Kingdom, recording and disseminating a wide range of official, regulatory and legal information. Legal content includes insolvency notices and certain Orders in Council. The free online archive for all three Gazettes is to be found on this website launched early in 2014, each Gazette having previously had its own web presence.
This is a selective collection of archived UK central government web sites developed by the National Archives. Launched on a modest scale in September 2003, it has been greatly expanded and currently includes more than 5000 web sites. Some content goes as far back as 1996. Most of the sites are collected as weekly or six-monthly snapshots.
WiredGov provides an alerting service for news articles from official UK government departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies. It was established in 2001 and has a searchable archive going back to 1999. Additional services including a personalised e-mail alert service are available on registration, which is free to UK public service subscribers but charged to private sector subscribers.