Public Documents: Retention

House of Lords written question – answered on 15th January 2014.

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Photo of Lord Luce Lord Luce Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking, in respect of public documents for which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible, to meet their commitment to reduce the period of retention from 30 to 20 years; and when they expect to release to the National Archives documents relating to Mauritius and the British Indian Ocean Territory for years later than 1980.

Photo of Baroness Warsi Baroness Warsi Senior Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Jointly with the Department for Communities and Local Government), Senior Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Faith and Communities) (also in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), like all Government departments, is required to achieve the release of its records at the 20-year mark by transferring two years’ of selected records to the National Archives (TNA) over every year of the transitional period (2013-2022).

Work on the release of colonial administration files over the 2011-2013 period has regrettably caused a backlog in the regular annual transfer of FCO departmental files to TNA. The colonial files project was completed in November 2013 and we have now deployed all of our file transfer resources onto annual release. We publish the order in which we will be transferring files to the TNA on our website at:

FCO departmental files relating to Mauritius and the British Indian Ocean Territory form part of the FCO 31 class (Eastern Africa) at TNA. We expect 1981 and 1982 FCO 31 files to transfer to the TNA later this year following which the TNA will require a further period to prepare the files for public release. We are working closely with the TNA on the transfer of files in the FCO 31 class for later years.

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