HC Deb 20 July 2000 vol 354 cc318-9W
Maria Eagle

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he proposes to publish a draft code of practice on the management of records under the proposals contained in the Freedom of Information Bill. [132305]

Mr. Lock

I am delighted to publish today a working draft of the Code of Practice on the management of records under Freedom of Information. Copies of the draft have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report will also be available on the internet.

The aims of the Code are twofold. The first is to set out practices which bodies subject to the Freedom of Information Act should follow in relation to the creation, keeping, management and destruction of their records. The second is to provide guidance on the review and transfer of public records to the Public Record Office, to places of deposit for public records appointed under the Public Records Act 1958, and to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. The Code covers records in all technical or physical formats.

Any freedom of information legislation is only as good as the quality of the records to which it provides access. Such rights are of little use if reliable records are not created in the first place, if they cannot be found when needed or if the arrangements for their eventual archiving or destruction are inadequate. Consequently all public authorities are encouraged to pay heed to the guidance in the Code. Authorities should note that if they fail to comply with the Code, they may be in breach of their statutory obligations.

The Code would satisfy a duty proposed in the Freedom of Information Bill.