The Advisory Council on National Records and Archives is an authority under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore has a statutory obligation to adopt and maintain a publication scheme. A publication scheme is a commitment to routinely and proactively provide specified information to the public.

In accordance with the new model publication scheme, the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives is expected to make available as much information as it can within the following classes:

  • Who we are and what we do
  • What we spend and how we spend it
  • What our priorities are and how we are doing
  • How we make decisions
  • Policies and procedures
  • Lists and registers

Freedom of Information Act 2000: publication scheme

Who we are and what we do

The Advisory Council on National Records and Archives (ACNRA) was established by the Lord Chancellor on 1 April 2003, to reflect his wider role in relation to archives following the bringing together of the Public Record Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission within The National Archives.

The role of the ACNRA is to advise the Lord Chancellor, and through him other ministers as appropriate, on all matters relating to records and archives in the United Kingdom and in particular in England and Wales. It embraces two further bodies: the Advisory Council on Public Records, established by s1(2) of the Public Records Act 1958 to advise the Lord Chancellor on public records matters, and the Advisory Council on Historical Manuscripts, established by the Lord Chancellor to advise him on matters formerly the responsibility of the Historical Manuscripts Commission. The three bodies operate as one, under the name of the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives, and share the same members. The chairman is the Master of the Rolls.

The three component bodies of the ACNRA are all advisory Non Departmental Public Bodies, with no executive functions or powers, and are authorities under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. However, since they operate as one they are all covered by this one publication scheme, with the approval of the Information Commissioner. The Secretary is the officer responsible for this scheme and for administering it on the ACNRA's behalf.

An up-to-date list of the members of the ACNRA and general information about membership is available.

The list of members of the ACNRA will also be published in the annual report and made available free of charge on application to the Secretary. The register of members' interests will also be made available on application to the Secretary. Please note that biographical details of members that are not work related will only be published with consent.

A statement of the role of the ACNRA is made available on the website and also on application to the Secretary. Further information is provided below on the role and functions of the council.

Role and functions of the Council (PDF, 0.06Mb)

Terms of reference of the ACNRA, as set by the Lord Chancellor from time to time, will also be published with the annual report and made available free of charge on application to the Secretary.

What we spend and how we spend it

  • The ACNRA is a Ministry of Justice sponsored public body and receives its annual budget from The National Archives.
  • The expenditure for the ACNRA in 2011-12 was £5980. This budget is used to cover the cost of travel and subsistence for Council members and the Secretary and hospitality for Council business. The cost of recruitment is met by a central recruitment budget within The National Archives.
  • Council members, including the Chair, are not salaried but are entitled to make a claim for expenses incurred through the performance of their duties such as transport costs and accommodation.
  • The ACNRA has no plans for major capital expenditure.
  • The National Archives receives funding through agreement with HM Treasury via the Government Spending Review process, which sets a three-year funding settlement.
  • Expenditure incurred within The National Archives is subject to external audit review conducted annually by The National Audit Office and their audit opinion is reported within The National Archives Annual Report and Accounts.
  • The post of Secretary to the Council is the only ACNRA post that is salaried and is funded by The National Archives at the pay grade E (salary range £25,055 - £32,975). This resource is also jointly shared with the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information.
  • Any expenses for procurement will follow internal guidance of The National Archives. 
  • The ACNRA has no contracts that have gone through a tendering process. 
  • Expenditure for ACNRA is included within The National Archives Annual report and Accounts. 
  • All financial policy and procedures set by The National Archives are followed by the ACNRA.

What are our priorities and how are we doing

The main priority of the ACNRA is to provide the Lord Chancellor with independent advice on all aspects of the public records system including access to public records, historical manuscripts, the allocation of historical papers accepted against tax and the sale of archives. It also considers major objectives, programmes and policy changes for The National Archives. The ACNRA has a statutory responsibility to advise the Lord Chancellor and by doing this speaks to government on behalf of the public.

The ACNRA is a small public body and does not have an annual strategic or business plan because, in line with its statutory remit, it consistently advises on the same issues (such as retention of records by government departments) as set out in its terms of reference.

In accordance with the Public Records Act, the ACNRA has to lay an annual report before Parliament. This summarises the advice of the ACNRA to the Lord Chancellor in line with its statutory remit and outlines particular issues the ACNRA has advised on. The Advisory Council reports since 2007 are available on the ACNRA web pages.

How we make decisions

The ACNRA is an advisory body so it 'makes decisions' through the advice it gives the Lord Chancellor. The ACNRA's advice to the Lord Chancellor normally takes one of three forms:

The Advisory Council's report to the Lord Chancellor, is published each summer within the annual report of The National Archives and is available for sale from The National Archives' bookshop and other official outlets. The annual report is free to download from The National Archives' website.

Retention Instruments for the Lord Chancellor to approve when departments submit schedules of applications for retention of records (under s 3(4) of the Public Records Act) to the ACNRA.

Applications not accepted by the ACNRA are not included on the Instrument signed by the Lord Chancellor. The role of the ACNRA in this process is set out in Part Two, Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on the Management of Records under Section 46, Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on the Management of Records (PDF, 0.38Mb)

Matters relating to the application of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to historical information contained in public records can include submissions or letters from the ACNRA to the Lord Chancellor. For example on matters relating to the ACNRA's role to advise the Lord Chancellor on the relative strengths of the public interest test considerations taken by departments that wish to close historical information.

Some of the work of the ACNRA is confidential, and appropriate exemptions may apply under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The ACNRA recognises the public interest in access to information about its constitution, its work, and the advice it gives to the Lord Chancellor including the reasons for that advice. It also recognises, however, the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of some of its papers and of the advice that it gives. Exempt confidential material normally takes one of four forms:

  • Applications from departments under the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967 for the retention of public records, or for their continued closure to public access, and papers about individual applications and about policy on sensitive areas. The provision of information about such material, and the ACNRA's advice on it, would prejudice the confidentiality which it seeks to protect
  • Information about the policies of The National Archives, which would fall under an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act and which it would not be in the public interest to reveal
  • Information received from third parties on confidential matters
  • Personal information about members.

In line with the requirements of this model publication scheme, the ACNRA is expected to publish minutes and agendas of the quarterly ACNRA meetings along with background documents referred to in agendas.

Policies and procedures

Customer service

The introduction of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ensures that anybody has the right to write and ask for official information held by the ACNRA as a public authority.

The ACNRA also has a statutory obligation to adopt and maintain this publication scheme. The official responsible for considering your requests for information and operating the publication scheme is the Secretary to the ACNRA. The Secretary should be contacted at the following address:

The Secretary
Advisory Council on National Records and Archives
c/o The National Archives
Kew, Richmond
Surrey TW9 4DU
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8392 5337
Email: Advisory Council Secretary

If you are disappointed with the outcome of your Freedom of Information request, you may write to the Master of Rolls' Office where an official will consider your appeal. The relevant contact details will be provided at the time of your request. If you are still unhappy with the outcome of your appeal, you can complain to the Information Commissioner.

There is a further right of appeal to an Information Tribunal.

Records management

As a public authority the ACNRA has to adhere to the Public Records Act, s3(4) and by doing so has to transfer its information selected for permanent preservation to The National Archives, in accordance with the current transfer rule. Records of the ACNRA that have been transferred to The National Archives can be found in the series PRO 42 and date from 1959-1986.

Information dating from 1986 to present day is held by the ACNRA and will be transferred to The National Archives in line with its statutory obligations.

Data handling

In 2008 the government commissioned a report by the Cabinet Office on the Review of Data Handling Procedures in Government, entitled Managing information risk.

Managing information risk (PDF, 3.70Mb)

The review sets out an agreed set of mandatory standards that apply across government when managing information risk. As a public body the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Council on National Records and Archives is also subject to these mandatory standards and to managing the risk associated with the information it handles. The Council also has a duty of confidence to protect the sensitive information entrusted to it by government.

Personal data policies

The ACNRA holds personal information about its members and those individuals who apply for appointment to the ACNRA. In line with the disposal schedule of the ACNRA, personal information about unsuccessful candidates will be destroyed after 18 months. In accordance with Data Protection legislation, under the Data Protection Act 1998, the ACNRA processes the information it holds about it members fairly and lawfully. Data Protection requests can be made in writing to the Secretary at the above address.

Charges for publications

  • Website: ACNRA publication scheme and other information that appears on the ACNRA pages of The National Archives' website can be accessed or downloaded free of charge
  • Email: Information provided by email is free of charge
  • Post: A single printout of information on the ACNRA pages of The National Archives website will be printed and posted free of charge on request. Charges will apply for multiple copies at 20 pence for each additional page requested

Policies and procedures for the recruitment and employment of staff

The recruitment of ACNRA members is conducted according to the guidelines set out by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) for making and managing public appointments.

Advisory Council recruitment guidelines (PDF, 0.06Mb)

In accordance with OCPA guidelines, vacancies for members of the Panel are advertised on the Public Appointments Vacancies Website. The post of Secretary to the Council is the only ACNRA post that is salaried and is funded by The National Archives. Recruitment for this post is carried out in accordance with the policies and procedures set out by The National Archives.

The services we offer

The services provided by the ACNRA are set out in the 'Who we are and what we do' section above. The ACNRA pages of The National Archives website can be accessed by the public and government officials to keep abreast of the independent advice given to the Lord Chancellor on cutting-edge records/archival and information rights issues.

Paul Edwards
Secretary to the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives

 

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