HC Deb 24 July 1996 vol 282 cc592-3W
Mr. Livingstone

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security for what reasons the file with the classmark PIN 59/19 recorded at the Public Record Office is currently closed for 75 years by his Department; and if he will consider opening(a) all or (b) part of it. [37611]

Mr. Heald

[holding answer 16 July 1996]: Under the Public Records Act, all records are required to be closed for the minimum period consistent with protection of the sensitive information identified in them. The normal closure period is 30 years, but the Lord Chancellor may prescribe an extension to this where any of a number of criteria are satisfied, including, for example, where it is necessary to protect an individual from disclosure of sensitive information during his or her lifetime.

The fact that a record has been closed for a stated period does not, however, preclude its release before that period has elapsed, if its sensitivity has passed, an application may be made for a reduction of the stated period.

We are already actively reviewing classes of information held in the Public Record Office with a view to accelerated opening, and will examine the file to which the question refers at the earliest opportunity.