HL Deb 01 March 1978 vol 389 cc599-600WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they can confirm that a number of British documents relating to the forcible repatriation of Russians and Cossacks during 1945–47, in particular the file known in the United States National Archives as Allied Forces Headquarters file 383.7–14.1, are not available to researchers in Washington only because of objections to such disclosure by Her Majesty's Government on the grounds of personal sensitivity; whether they can confirm that the original copy of this file was physically destroyed in 1968 or 1969; if this is correct, whether they can explain by what right or law a file containing personally sensitive material was destroyed; and whether they will now authorise the United States authorities to disclose to the public their copies of these documents and obtain from them duplicate copies, which can then be lodged in the Public Record Office in place of the destroyed originals for the benefit of the British public.


Our copy of Allied Forces Headquarters file 383.7–14.1 was destroyed in 1968 or 1969. Under the Public Records Acts documents are selected for permanent preservation only if they have some value for historical or research purposes; this applies irrespective of whether they contain personally sensitive information. In the case of AFHQ file 383.7–14.1, destruction had been authorised on the ground that it contributed information concerning only administrative details of the repatriation, together with lists of individuals. Since, however, the information regarding the identity of individual persons repatriated or considered for repatriation was personally sensitive, in response to earlier inquiries the United States Government were asked not to release their copy since the records in question were still covered by the 30-year rule.