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Circular covers ministerial access to previous administration records

01 November 2017

The Cabinet Office has released a circular Access to information of a previous administration.

The circular sets out the principles that guide Ministers' access to the records of the previous administration. It also provides guidance for officials handling requests for official information received before 26 October 2017, when the new administration was appointed.

It says recognising that government is a continuing process and to ensure that decisions may be made in the light of precedent, by convention incumbent Ministers are entitled to access the Cabinet records of a previous administration.

Departmental papers are not covered by the convention on access, and incumbent Ministers have no automatic right to copies of departmental papers or briefings prepared for a previous Minister.

The circular says that departments and agencies are reminded that while briefings for incoming Ministers are subject to the Official Information Act, there is no presumption that they will be released. Whether a briefing is released publicly is a matter for the Minister - not the department or agency - to decide.

It also contains information on the process which the Office of the Ombudsman has agreed for handling unprocessed requests for official information received before the new administration was appointed on 26 October 2017.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019