The Advisory Council on National Records and Archives also encompasses the Advisory Council on Public Records and the Advisory Council on Historical Manuscripts. All three Councils function as one body to advise the Lord Chancellor.
The Advisory Council on Historical Manuscripts was turned into a subcommittee of the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives in May 2010 to provide a means through which recommendations can be made to the Advisory Council about activity relating specifically to historical manuscripts (private archives), as well as a place for discussion about academic research issues. The subcommittee is known as the Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research. The terms of reference for each are set out below.
Advisory Council on National Records and Archives
The function of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives 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(1).
It is chaired by the Master of the Rolls. The terms of reference of the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives are to consider and advise the Lord Chancellor on:
- major objectives, programmes and policy changes for The National Archives
- proposed legislation affecting The National Archives
- the implications for records and public services of any proposed change to the status of The National Archives
- any subjects brought to its attention by the Lord Chancellor
Advisory Council on Public Records
Certain topics are within the scope of the statutory responsibilities of the Advisory Council on Public Records. It will consider and investigate the following matters and provide advice to the Lord Chancellor on them as necessary(2):
- applications from departments for the retention of public records pending the repeal of s5(1) of the Public Records Act 1958 by the Freedom of Information Act 2000
- applications from departments for the extended closure of public records and restrictions placed by departments on the release of public records under the Open Government Initiative
- matters relating to the application of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to information contained in public records that are historical records within the meaning of Part VI of that Act(3)
- preservation of public records in places of deposit and facilities for public access to them
Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research (formerly the Advisory Council on Historical Manuscripts)
The Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research will consider and provide advice to the Lord Chancellor on matters relating to manuscripts, records and archives, other than the public records, and particularly:
- the location, collection, care, custody, preservation, acquisition, sale, and use in all formats of such documents
- the compilation and dissemination of information about them
- any questions affecting such documents as may be referred for its consideration, including issues relating to the statutory duties of the Master of the Rolls in respect of manorial and tithe documents, and the making of recommendations to appropriate Ministers on the allocation of archives and manuscripts accepted for the nation in lieu of tax
- other issues that would formerly have come within the terms of reference of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts as set out in the Royal Warrant
The Forum will act as a vehicle for the development of constructive and collaborative engagement between The National Archives and its academic stakeholders, sharing knowledge and developing trust and understanding. The Forum will also provide an open, independent and authoritative advisory voice to the organisation, to support research and academic liaison at The National Archives.
(1) The remit of the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives for the United Kingdom as a whole is without prejudice to matters covered by records and archives legislation of the devolved administrations.
(2) Public Records Act 1958 s1(2):
There shall be an Advisory Council on Public Records to advise the Lord Chancellor on matters concerning public records in general and, in particular, on those aspects of the work of The National Archives that affect members of the public who make use of the facilities provided by The National Archives. The Master of the Rolls shall be chairman of the said council and the remaining members of the council shall be appointed by the Lord Chancellor on such terms as he may specify.
(3) Inserted as s1(2A) of the Public Records Act 1958 by sch 5 para 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.