National Archives

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Julian Sturdy Julian Sturdy Conservative, York Outer

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans the Government has to increase accessibility to files held by the National Archives for people living outside London.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State

Like many archives within the sector, The National Archives has adapted its services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and for the remainder of 2020, anticipate limited on-site access to their physical collections. Therefore, The National Archives remains committed to expanding remote access to its collections, with a focus on making content discoverable and, where possible, available online.

In response to its temporary closure in the spring, The National Archives provided free online access to a wide range of digital and digitised records through its Digital Downloads Service, for which demand has increased more than 2,000%. While The National Archives reopened to the public on 21 July 2020, it has continued to provide this free online access alongside its present onsite service offer.

Since 2003 The National Archives has captured, preserved, and made freely accessible the UK Government Web Archive, which includes billions of webpages, videos, tweets and images from government dating from 1996 to the present day. Throughout the pandemic, the UK Government Web Archive has been critical in capturing the comprehensive record of fast paced coronavirus information published by the UK Government, through high-intensity web archiving.

Finally, as the Queen's Printer and the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO), The National Archives aids legal certainty through legislation.gov.uk, with the registration and publication of legislation which is freely accessible to anyone regardless of locality.

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