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Records Management

Volume 448: debated on Monday 3 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what rules are in the Joint Service Defence Records Management Manual concerning retention of (a) records concerning changes of policy and instructions and (b) documentation on the reasons for changes made. (79838)

Joint Service Publication 441—the Defence Records Management Manual—identifies effective methods of storing information in a coherent manner and of reviewing and disposing information in an efficient and cost-effective way in order to comply with the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1965. The principle is that material of historic value should be identified for permanent preservation, and that other material should be destroyed as soon as there is no business need for it. The wide variety of activities within the Department means that many decisions must be taken locally. However, the manual includes in an illustrative list of records likely to warrant permanent preservation, those that:

Illustrate the formation/evolution of Defence policy

Contain important decisions relating to the organisation, disposition or use of the armed forces

Show the reasons for important decisions or actions or provide precedents.