Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect on research by historians of the reduction in (a) opening hours, (b) visit appointments and (c) numbers of documents which can be accessed per visit at the National Archives; and whether such reductions are planned to be reversed in entirety after the covid-19 outbreak. 
[Due for Answer on 11 November.]
The Minister of State for Media and Data (Mr John Whittingdale): The National Archives suspended its reading room service as of 5 November 2020, in line with the new national restrictions in England and in alignment with other national cultural institutions, however access to its collections and services remains available online. The pandemic has impacted The National Archives’ ability to meet demand from researchers and throughout the pandemic I have received regular updates from officials at The National Archives on the provision and expansion of its public services and the measures adopted to ensure a COVID safe environment.
With the benefit of user feedback, The National Archives continues to review all elements of its public service offer and will restore and then seek to increase services when it is safe to do so and in line with national regulations and guidance. I and The National Archives remain committed to the provision of public services that maximise access to the public record for users of all kinds, whilst ensuring the safety both of users and staff.