§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, What are the regulations of the Record Office under which documents are produced to the public; and, what is the number of men engaged in their production for each department of the Office; and the number employed in stamping in the records previous to their being produced?
Sir, the records in the Public Record Office are produced to the public gratuitously. Every person, on his first attendance at the office to make a search or inquiry, is requested to write his name and address in a book kept for that purpose. Each searcher is allowed to have three documents at a time; if more are needed 1474 for any special purpose, the officer in the search room may increase the number at his discretion. Documents are not permitted to be inspected unless they are stamped. An exception as to entire freedom of search is made in the case of Departmental documents, which cannot be examined without the permission of the Department of the Government to which they belong, as such Departmental documents do not come under the provisions of the Public Record Act, 1 & 2 Vict., c. 94, but are quasi-private documents, subject to special regulations made by the Department to which they belong. With respect to the Question relating to the "number of men," there are 14 men constantly engaged in producing from 103 record rooms the documents required by searchers, and there are eight other men employed in "stamping" and numbering these documents previously to their being produced, and in checking them on being returned. It is absolutely necessary that all documents should be stamped, numbered, and checked, to prevent abstraction, insertion, or damage without discovery. 36,900 documents had been examined between January and June last year.