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Government: 30-year Rule

Volume 717: debated on Monday 1 March 2010


My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Jack Straw) made the following Written Ministerial Statement on Friday 26 February 2010.

I yesterday laid before each House a copy of the Government’s response to the 30 Year Rule Review (Cm 7822). Copies of this document are available in the Libraries of both Houses and also in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

This publication will further the Government’s plans to increase the accessibility of public information to improve the culture of openness and transparency in public life.

The right to access information has become a cornerstone of our democracy. On 25 October 2007, my right honourable friend, the Prime Minister, announced an independent review of the 30-year rule. The review, chaired by Paul Dacre, published its findings in January 2009. The Government have carefully considered those findings.

As my right honourable friend, the Prime Minister, announced on 10 June 2009 (Official Report, Commons, 10 June 2009 col. 797) the Government plan to reduce the rule to 20 years via amendments to the Public Records Act 1958 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Government believe that a 20-year rule offers the best balance between openness, affordability and the protection of the public interest in good government.

The new information access arrangements set out in the Government’s response to the 30-year rule review will provide earlier access to a wide range of public documents, while also ensuring that we are able to protect the most sensitive information and the constitutional relationships that underpin our system of government.

In order to bring forward these important proposals the Government yesterday tabled amendments to the Constitutional Renewal and Governance Bill. Those amendments also provide protection to Royal records.

I would like to express my gratitude to Paul Dacre, and his two colleagues on the review Sir Joseph Pilling and Professor Sir David Cannadine for all their work on the review.