New Forest East



Dr Julian Lewis:  To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 24 May to Question 2854 on the Mountbatten archive, what the terms were of the undertakings given by Lord Mountbatten in 1969 on the publication of the material in the archive; for what reason private diaries and letters that could have been sold on the open market are deemed to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000; for what reason the full archive has not been made public a decade after its publicly-funded acquisition by Southampton University; what the timeline is for the publication of that part of the archive that remains currently unpublished; and if he will list the criteria according to which any part of the archive can be deemed to be too sensitive for publication.  [11456]

[Due for Answer on 10 June]


The Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office (Julia Lopez}:  Before he retired as Chief of Defence Staff in 1965, the first Earl Mountbatten accepted that personal diaries could not be put into the public domain without first being vetted. Earl Mountbatten made clear that ownership of all of these papers would be handed over to the Broadlands Trustees. In 1969, the Broadlands Trustees entered into undertakings not to give general or particular access to these papers without the express permission of the Prime Minister of the day through the Cabinet Secretary. A copy of the Undertakings is available at the National Archives. In line with this agreement, the Cabinet Office is continuing to work with the University of Southampton to support the release of the Mountbatten archive whilst ensuring sensitive and official information is handled appropriately and in line with the Freedom of Information Act and Data Protection Act.

This case is currently before the Information Tribunal. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to make further comment whilst this is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.