Minister Humphreys announces publication of the National Archives (Amendment) Bill 2017
The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has published the National Archives (Amendment) Bill 2017 following approval by Government.
The purpose of the Bill is to provide for the phased implementation of a 20 Year Rule for the transfer of departmental records to the National Archives. This is done by way of amending the National Archives Act 1986.
The change will be implemented on a phased basis, starting with the Departments of the Taoiseach, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Justice and Equality, and the Attorney General’s Office.
The Minister aims to introduce the Bill into the Dáil in the early autumn.
Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:
“I am delighted to publish this Bill. It will provide the flexibility for Government Departments to commence the transfer of records to the National Archives for public release after 20 years rather than the current 30 years.
“The United Kingdom began to take this step in 2013, and it was concern of mine that, if our Government did not take action, an incomplete view of our shared history could develop over the coming years.
“Moving to a 20 year system is a considerable task, and I am conscious that it will require extra resources in both the National Archives and Government Departments, which is why I am advocating a phased approach.
“This legislation is a positive step which will allow for the early release of records which are of historical importance or public interest while ensuring our shared history with the UK is presented in a balanced fashion.
“It is also important to note that my Department is working closely with the National Archives and the Office of Public Works to progress the multi million euro redevelopment of the National Archives storage building to provide appropriate long term storage conditions for these and other records which will be transferred to the National Archives in the coming years.”
Note to Editors:
Under the National Archives Act 1986, Government Departments, Offices and the Courts have an obligation to transfer records older than 30 years, subject to certain exemptions, to the National Archives.
This Bill implements a Cabinet decision to reduce from 30 years to 20 years the time limit for the transfer of Departmental records.
The context for this legislative change is that the UK began to move from a 30 year rule to a 20 year rule in 2013. This process will be complete in the UK by 2023.
The change will be implemented on a phased basis, starting with the Departments most closely associated with Anglo-Irish matters; Department of the Taoiseach, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Justice and Equality, and the Attorney General’s Office.
It is planned to extend the reduction to other Departments as resources permit.
An interdepartmental group is currently working on an implementation plan, taking into account resourcing and other issues. They are scheduled to bring their recommendations to Cabinet later this year.
You can view the full Bill here.
In parallel, the Government has decided to develop a Records Management Plan for the public sector which will introduce more efficient and effective management of records.