Government Departments: Records

House of Lords written question – answered on 23rd March 2011.

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Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many files in each department have been held for more than 30 years and are not available to the public.

Photo of Lord McNally Lord McNally Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords

Records retained in departments, if selected for permanent preservation, are listed in the National Archives catalogue and are subject to the provisions of the Public Records Act. According to the National Archives Catalogue there are 22,318 files retained in departments that are over 30 years old.

Retained records are still subject to the Freedom of Information Act. It is not possible therefore to identify how many are unavailable to the public, but members of the public may make a request to have the file made available under the Freedom of Information Act. Records are listed in the catalogue by their creating body (not that which currently has custody) and machinery of government changes over time mean it is not possible to provide a detailed breakdown by department.

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