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Records of parliamentary debates 1861-1990

Legislative debates have been recorded in writing for centuries, ever since the diet of estates. Until 1790 there were hand-written summaries of the proceedings in Latin. Thereafter the records were printed in Hungarian and Latin and, as from 1832, they were only printed in Hungarian.

Shorthand writers, who could record every word said in the legislative chamber, were first employed in the Lower House in 1830 but only in 1839 were the rules of editing the records defined for district assemblies, the Lower and the Upper House. From then on each sitting got a serial number and a brief definition of the Order of the Day; the names of MPs contributing to the debates were recorded, transcriptions were authenticated and parliamentary papers got numbered. That is how the format of parliamentary records and papers gradually evolved and has come down to us in a nearly unchanged form.

Parliamentary records were first produced in the Upper House in 1840. During the last diet in Pozsony/Pressburg (today Bratislava in Slovakia) (1847–48) there was talk of setting up a permanent office of shorthand writers but that only materialized during the first national assembly elected on the basis of people’s representation (1848–49) in Pest. The periodical Közlöny [Gazette] carried verbatim transcripts of the debates in the Lower House. Shorthand writers recorded the debates of both Houses of the Parliament, which was convened for 2 May 1861, and the records were made public in a printed form. In form the authenticated transcriptions of that time are identical with present ones, and the past and present ones are identical in including coverage not only of words said but reference to emotional reactions to statements, like expressions of approval and words shouted during speeches. We know from service regulations dated to the end of the 19th century that the shorthand parliamentary records were printed within about 20 days of the sittings. Once a volume was compiled, editors started to make its name and subject index. Three months after a parliamentary term ended, it was required to come up with a consolidated index of names and subjects for the entire term.

Last modified on Sunday, 02 December 2012 01:01
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