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Lord Warner: The Department of Health will be consulting on policy guidance to accompany the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 over the next few months with a view to publishing the policy guidance by April 2005. The Social Care Institute for Excellence will use the evidence from its current knowledge review on the participation of carers in changing and improving social care services to develop, in consultation with key stakeholders, a practice guide, which is likely to be published in the summer of 2005.
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Under what statutory or other legal authority the closure order was made preventing the public disclosure for 100 years of documents submitted to the Cullen inquiry into the Dunblane tragedy. [HL4390]
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: There is no statutory basis for the closure of records created by Scottish public bodies. The Public Records (Scotland) Act 1937 (the 1937 Act) makes provision for the preservation, care and custody of the public records of Scotland. The terms of the legislation are permissive.
By contrast, in England and Wales the Public Records Act 1958 (as amended by the Public Records Act 1967) sets a statutory "closure period" of 30 years after which records must, with limited exceptions, be made available to the public. The 1937 Act does not
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impose similar obligations on Scottish Executive departments, but in practice those procedures are followed in Scotland.
The criteria for closures longer than 30 years were defined in the 1993 White Paper on Open Government (Cm 2290), in accordance with which it is for the department responsible for depositing the material to decide on the closure period. In Scotland, the national archives of Scotland cannot vary this closure period and cannot produce "closed records" to the public without the permission of the depositing department. The White Paper set out a clear statement of principle as to what information should be made available and what ought properly to be kept confidential in the public interest.
Documents containing information about individuals, whose disclosure would cause either substantial distress or endangerment from a third party to persons affected by disclosure or their descendants, can be subject to a variable closure period of between 40 and 100 years.
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