Until 2000, the Public Records Act 1958 had been substantially amended once (by the Public Records Act 1967) and in detail many times by other statutes and statutory instruments. Most of these minor changes brought bodies within the scope of the Act.

In 2000, however, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 introduced very significant changes, which came into force in January 2005. The text of the Public Records Act given here is as amended by the Freedom of Information Act.

Read the Public Records Act 1958.

Find out more about the history of the Public Records Act.

Find out more about the public records system today.

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the Public Records Act.

Concordat on Welsh public records

The National Archives is the archive for the UK government and for England and Wales. However, the Government of Wales Act 2006, Part 6, sections 146-148 makes provision for Welsh public records, carrying forward provisions originally made in the Government of Wales Act 1998. Sections 146-148 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (GOWA 2006) make provision for a category of records known as 'Welsh public records.' Records falling within this category are listed in section 148 of GOWA 2006. 

Section 146 of GOWA 2006 provides that Welsh public records are governed by the Public Records Act until such time that the Lord Chancellor makes an Order under section 147 imposing or conferring functions in respect of them (for example, a duty to preserve them) on either the Welsh Ministers, or a member of staff of the Welsh Government. In the event that such an order were made, this would, in effect, provide the authority to create a Welsh National Public Record Office. 

The National Assembly for Wales is the democratically elected body that represents the interests of Wales and its people, makes laws for Wales, and holds the Welsh Government to account. The Welsh Government is the executive Branch of the National Assembly for Wales consisting of the First Minister, Welsh Ministers and the Counsel General. The Welsh Government is supported by civil servants throughout Wales who assist in policy development and implementation. 

Welsh public records include the records of the Welsh Government (Welsh Office from 1964 until 1999; of the National Assembly for Wales from May 1999 to June 2007; of the Welsh Assembly Government from June 2007 to May 2011) and a number of sponsored bodies affiliated to it. The records of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Commission are not Welsh public records under this legislation and the Assembly and Assembly Commission records are responsible for their own records.

The records of the National Assembly for Wales (also known as the Welsh Assembly), Welsh Assembly Commission, Welsh Government and affiliated bodies are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Until an Order under section 147 has been laid, The National Archives will continue to carry out its statutory functions in regard to Welsh public records in accordance with the Public Records Acts 1958. A Concordat between the Welsh Government and the National Archives has been recently updated in order to formalise this arrangement.

English version of the Concordat (PDF, 0.47Mb)

Welsh version of the Concordat (PDF, 0.08Mb)

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