Record Office (The Parliamentary Archives)
(Clerk of the Records: Stephen Ellison)
The Record Office provides an archive service and
a records management service for both Houses of Parliament, answers
enquiries about the history and records of Parliament, and makes
historic Parliamentary records accessible to the public through
the Search Room.
The complement of 5 archivists was increased from
August 2000 by the appointment of an additional archivist/records
manager. The Office has 4 support staff, 6 conservation officers
and a part-time supervisor (seconded from the British Library),
and 3 reprographic officers (seconded from The Stationery Office).
3 Activities and Financial Performance
Archive Service: A business case for bringing the
environmental conditions and fire safety systems of the Victoria
Tower repository up to standard was submitted. Some 300 cubic
metres of records, equivalent to the holdings of three floors
of the tower, were removed to off-site storage for the duration
of the project, from where they can be returned within 48 hours
A review of the Office's outreach activities was
undertaken in the context of the Government's policy for access
by all to archive services and on the use of archive materials
in schools, higher education and for lifelong learning. Scope
to implement the recommendations in full is limited by resources
but the Office will seek to use internet technology to promote
the wider use of archives, imaginatively, effectively and economically.
A business case was approved for an online archival
catalogue conforming to international standards of archive description
that will enable participation in the national archive network.
After competitive tender, appropriate software was selected for
the system, which has been installed and populated with 3,500
Records Management Service: The Clerk of the Records
chaired a House of Lords working group on the implications of
freedom of information legislation. The group recommended that
a Freedom of Information Officer should have responsibility for
supervising and co-ordinating arrangements for ensuring House
of Lords' compliance and that requests for information should
be processed, so far as possible, using established current practice.
A 3-year strategy for the management of Parliamentary records
in all media, which will ensure compliance with the legislation,
was launched. A corporate file classification, which is adaptable
to the requirements of individual offices, is being developed.
A corporate approach to electronic records management
was endorsed by a working group of both Houses under the chairmanship
of the Record Office. The group recommended that decisions to
move to document management systems for electronic documents and
records should be made within a Parliament-wide framework. Other
recommendations focused on the need for the Record Office to give
specialist advice to project boards and IT steering groups.
Financial performance: The costs of the Record Office
are shared by the Lords and Commons in the ratio of 60:40. Expenditure
was £745,539. There were receipts of £12,599 from the
sale of photocopies and royalties, and £27,209 from VAT recoveries.
The comparable figures for last year were £669,691, £13,759
and £26,032. The House of Commons' contribution for 2000-01
was £309,000. The increase in expenditure was mainly attributable
to the budgeted costs of the electronic cataloguing project.
4 Future Activities
- In April 2001, a 4-year programme for the retrospective
conversion of paper finding aids for inclusion in the electronic
catalogue (launched in April 2001).
- A 4-year programme for the installation of new
air conditioning, electrical wiring and a fire protection system
for the Victoria Tower repository will begin in Summer 2001.
- A joint Lords and Commons staff review to assess
the need to strengthen the records management team (June 2001).
- Roll-out of a corporate file classification for
Parliamentary records will begin.
- The appointment of a Freedom of Information Officer,
based in the Record Office.