HL Deb 30 April 1969 vol 301 cc846-7

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements have been made to meet the current need for search room and storage accommodation in the Public Record Office and what proposals they have for meeting those needs in future.]


My Lords, accommodation in Her Majesty's Land Registry in Lincoln's Inn Fields, which is no longer needed because of the establishment of district land registries, has been made available to the Public Record Office. A search room for fifty readers was opened there last May and a further search room for a similar number this April. From 1st May, 15,000 feet of records are being stored there, consisting of Cabinet Office and Foreign Office records, Census returns and other intensively used records. There is additional space in Lincoln's Inn Fields for further search room and storage accommodation which will come into operation as need arises. The accommodation thus made available should meet the current and short-term needs of the Office. Plans for the long term are being actively pursued and I hope to be able to make a further Statement upon them before the Summer Recess.


My Lords, while thanking the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for that encouraging reply, I should like to ask two further questions arising out of it. The first, on the short-term current requirements, is whether Her Majesty's Government will give such publicity as they can, to these new arrangements, not only at home but overseas, where those involved in research have in the past expressed concern at coming to this country and finding that facilities have been on the short side? Secondly, while welcoming the prospect of a further Statement on the long-term need, may I ask that Her Majesty's Government will do everything possible to expedite such a decision?


My Lords, in answer to the first supplementary question may I say that we will certainly give the present position as much publicity as we can. Some newspapers gave considerable publicity to complaints at the time when there was a lack of facilities. I hope that the same newspapers will now give the same publicity to the existing facilities. As to the second supplementary question, we are most actively pursuing the long-term plans and, as I have said, I hope to be able to make an announcement about them before the Summer Recess.


My Lords, in regard to the Land Registry, may I ask the noble and learned Lord whether he is having more success in getting permission to take on civil servants for the district land registries than he was having when he last mentioned that matter to the House?


My Lords, very active negotiations on the subject are going on.