Hansard is the informal title for the official printed report of parliamentary debates, excluding obvious grammatical errors, slips of the tongue and factual errors.
The term is also used to refer to the Department of Parliamentary Debates, the parliamentary department that produces the printed record.
The informal title is named after Thomas Curson Hansard, who in England in 1812, became the publisher of Parliamentary Debates, a reprint of journalists' reports of speeches extracted from other newspapers.
In 1829 the publication was renamed Hansard's Parliamentary Debates and the Hansard family continued to produce it until 1889. It was during this period that the name Hansard became synonymous with the printed debates.
Hansard in Victoria
For the first decade of the Parliament of Victoria's history, reports of the debates of both Houses were transcribed and published by the newspaper, the Argus. Called Victorian Hansard, they were of questionable accuracy and were often criticised.
On 23 June 1865 a motion that the transcription and printing of proceedings be supervised by the Parliament was carried in the Legislative Assembly. Three former Argus reporters were hired to form a Department of Victorian Parliamentary Debates. They began reporting on 12 February 1866 at the beginning of the first session of the fifth Parliament of Victoria (four decades before the Parliament in Westminster passed a similar resolution).
In the early years transcripts were still incomplete because of a shortage of suitably qualified staff. Gradually, additional staff members were appointed and it became possible to produce the debates in full.
The bound volumes were officially entitled the Parliamentary Debates, but were always referred to by the familiar name of Hansard. Acknowledging the historical associations and bowing to popular usage, the term 'Hansard' was incorporated in the official title page of the parliamentary transcripts in 1958.