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Record Office (Scottish Records)

Volume 524: debated on Tuesday 9 March 1954

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asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he is aware that the Record Office in Chancery Lane, London, is overcrowded with valuable records; that many are Scottish records which, by reason of the overcrowding, are not easily accessible to Scottish scholars; that a new Scottish National Library and Record Office is now being built in Edinburgh; and if he will take step to transfer to Scottish custody in Edinburgh the Scottish records now housed in Chancery Lane, London.

The Public Record Office is not now overcrowded. In strict law records held there are not Scottish records unless and until a direction is made by the Master of the Rolls under the Public Records (Scotland) Act, 1937. Under this procedure a number were transferred to the Scottish Record Office in 1948. Some records held at Chancery Lane are, of course, of interest to both countries.

Is the Minister aware that there are still in Chancery Lane a number of records which are euphemistically called reports by the people known as "intelligencers," that those reports are urgently required by Scottish historians and scholars, and will he take steps to have them sent to Edinburgh where they can be used for the public good?

It is to some extent a matter of opinion whether certain of these documents are Scottish or English records. As I understand it, they were intelligence reports sent by the English Ambassador in the 16th Century to the Secretary of State in London. They give interesting information about Scotland but, of course, they were paid for, in accordance with the custom of those days and no doubt at a considerable rate, by the English taxpayer.

May I ask my hon. Friend where he would keep records concerning an hon. Member born in Ireland with a Welsh name who sits for a Scottish seat?