National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

First Scottish Cabinet Records are Opened to the Public

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First Scottish Cabinet Records are Opened to the Public

Thursday, 1 Jan 2015
Sculpture of Donald Dewar

From 1 January 2015, National Records of Scotland (NRS) will make available files containing the first meetings of the newly-established Scottish Cabinet held in 1999. The files reveal discussions around issues ranging from Land Reform to new government proposals for Freedom of Information in Scotland.

These files would previously have remained closed for 30 years, and form part of the annual release of archived information in NRS by the Scottish Government. Since 2009 the Scottish Government has proactively opened over 13,000 files at 15 years rather than the traditional 30 years.

Moreover, new Freedom of Information legislation effective from 1 April this year has reduced the period of time most information can be withheld, and lifted restrictions on 'historical' records. This means more Scottish public authority information will be in the public domain earlier than was previously the case.

Also available for the first time from 1999 are government files on areas as diverse as: funding sources for Gaelic pre-school education; fisheries policy, in particular consideration of the Shetland Box; implementation of the ‘Higher Still’ exams; a report on the abolition of the feudal system of land tenure; and guidance notes on tackling the year 2000 date change problem (the 'Millennium Bug').  Files from earlier years include topics such as the consideration of grant aid for modernising Glasgow's underground rail system, and actions following allegations of ill-treatment at South Inch House Detention Centre.

In welcoming this latest release of information, Tim Ellis, Chief Executive of NRS and Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said ‘These papers provide an interesting glimpse into the considerations of the then newly established Scottish Cabinet.  They add significantly to the broad range of historical records about government activities in Scotland now available to researchers, and they complement the other unique information about Scotland's people and history that NRS holds on behalf of the nation.’

Joe FitzPatrick, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Parliamentary Business, said: “I’m sure the first papers of the Scottish Cabinet included in this latest file release will prove fascinating reading for politicians, historians and the wider public.

“Information made available at the National Records of Scotland as well as the wealth of information proactively made available on the Scottish Government’s website demonstrates this Government’s on-going commitment to openness and transparency.

“The Scottish Government is proud of its record in ensuring Scotland’s Freedom of Information legislation remains up-to-date and the most robust across the UK.”

Following the New Year public holidays, the newly opened files will be available to view in our search room from Monday 5 January. The Cabinet meetings and papers are available in digital format. The remaining records have not been digitised, are held off-site and require to be ordered via our online catalogue. Please note that we require at least one working day’s notice to pre-order files and cannot guarantee they will be available on 5 January.

Details about government files which were previously opened can be found by searching our online catalogue. These open records complement many of those on this year’s release list.

Please note that you will need a current reader’s ticket to see files in our search room. See how to obtain a reader’s ticket, and what preparations to make, in the preparing to visit page of our website.

The list of files released in 2015 can be viewed in either PDF or Rich Text Format. The list indicates which files are available as digital images and which require pre-ordering.

File Release List (PDF 158KB)
File Release List (RTF 1.78MB)