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On 1 April 2005 a batch of hitherto secret records held by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will be opened to the public at The National Archives (TNA) at Kew. These records, which comprise over 100 pieces in nine boxes, cover the period from 1873 until the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939.

The documents are those held by the Permanent Under Secretary's Department (PUSD) of the Foreign Office (FO). This was the name given just after the Second World War to the FO Department that was responsible for liaison between the FO and the UK's Intelligence Agencies; the department had a number of different designations, but 'PUSD' has come to be used as a shorthand for its function. Because it dealt with the Intelligence Agencies, the records of PUSD are covered by the 'blanket' exemption from the transfer and release provisions of the Public Records Act.

Into the PUSD archives was put material relating to the FO's financing of the two Agencies for which it was responsible (the Secret Intelligence Service and GCHQ), as well as a lot of other information regarded as too secret or sensitive to be registered on the regular files. The result is that the papers are a fascinating miscellany of detail concerning the acquisition and exploitation of secret intelligence in support of the objectives of British foreign policy. Although some very early Intelligence papers inherited by SIS were transferred to TNA in the early 1990s as PUSD records, this is the first release from the FCO’s PUSD collections.

PDF The Records of the Permanent Under-Secretary's Department  (PDF, 594 Kb)
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