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Volume 176: debated on Wednesday 11 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what system he employs to classify, log and otherwise record each document generated by his Department; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 2 July 1990]: Staff are provided with clear instructions on the registering and classification of documents and on the transmission and storage of classified documents.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what criteria he uses when deciding which documents to pass on to the Public Record Office.

[holding answer 2 July 1990]: No document falls due for selection and transfer to the Public Record Office until it is at least 30 years old. A document's suitability for permanent preservation under the terms of the Public Records Act 1958 will be reviewed during that period. The Act does not require statistics to be kept in the form requested and to do so would inevitably incur disproportionate cost. However, in order to comply with their duties under the Act, Departments are obliged to ensure that all documentary records are properly preserved with a view to possible transfer to the Public Record Office and eventual release to the public. The general criteria under which the Department may retain documents over 30 years old are set out in section 3(4) of the Public Records Act.