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Country code GB
Repository code 234
Repository National Records of Scotland
Reference CAB
Title Cabinet Office
Dates 1863-1991
Access status Open
Description The TNA's finding aids to CAB, whether on paper, or on the 'Core Executive' section of their website, do not apply perfectly to NRS's set. After a long process of checking the records, we have therefore retyped the CAB catalogue to reflect the records held by NRS. The CAB list in our search rooms should be taken as definitive in relation to NRS's set of the records.

If material is marked 'Wanting' in our list, this means that it is mentioned in the TNA catalogue, but not transmitted to NRS. It should be obtainable at Kew.

If material is marked 'not issued'/'not received', this means that there is a note or some other indication among neighbouring records that the material in question, though expected in the sequence, was never in fact created/received in Cabinet Office. It will not be obtainable at Kew either.

The introductory material which follows was taken from that provided in the PRO's Core Executive Pilot on their website. For a full version, including details of records held by PRO but not by NRS, please see http://www.pro.gov.uk/finding/coreexec/CAB TOP.htm.
The Cabinet Office records ........ comprise the most valuable single collection of modern (British) material for historical purposes that can be obtained from official sources (Report of the Committee on Departmental Records 1954 (Grigg Report), 147 (Cmd 9163)).

The records of the Cabinet Office are, in part, so valuable because of the importance of the bodies for which the Office acted as secretariat see later in this introduction for detailed information about bodies listed below. Foremost amongst these are the Cabinet and its committees. The latter are here organised into several sections:

Cabinet Minutes and Papers

Committee of Imperial Defence

Cabinet Committees 1916-1939

Cabinet Committees 1939-1945

Cabinet Committees 1945 onwards

Also included are the following records:-

Imperial, Commonwealth and other international conferences

The Cabinet Office has serviced many of these conferences and their records are included.

Central Statistical Office

Amongst the Cabinet Office papers are also those of this body, for which it acquired responsibility.
Cabinet Minutes and Papers

CAB22 War Council: Dardanelles Committee and War Committee, 1914-16

CAB23 Cabinet conclusions to 1939

CAB24 Cabinet papers to 1939

CAB65 War Cabinet minutes, 1939-45

CAB66 War Cabinet memoranda (CP and WP), 1939-45

CAB67 War Cabinet memoranda (WP(G)), 1939-45

CAB68 War Cabinet memoranda (WP(R)), 1939-45

CAB129 not yet available
Records of the Committee of Imperial Defence

CAB2 Committee of Imperial Defence: Minutes of Meetings, 1921-22

CAB3 Committee of Imperial Defence: Memoranda 'A' Series (Home Defence), 1921-22

CAB4 Committee of Imperial Defence: Memoranda 'B' Series (Miscellaneous), 1921-22

CAB5 Committee of Imperial Defence: Memoranda 'A' Series (Colonial Defence), 1921-22

CAB6 Committee of Imperial Defence: Memoranda 'A' Series (Indian Defence), 1921-22

CAB7 Committee of Imperial Defence: Colonial and Overseas Defence Committee Minutes, 1877-1939

CAB8 Committee of Imperial Defence: Colonial and Overseas Defence Committee Memoranda, 1885-1939

CAB9 Committee of Imperial Defence: Colonial and Overseas Defence Committee, Remarks, 1887-1939

CAB10 Committee of Imperial Defence: Colonial and Overseas Defence Committee, Minutes of the Committee, 1907-1939

CAB11 Committee of Imperial Defence: Colonial and Overseas Defence Committee, Defence schemes etc, 1863-1939

CAB12 Committee of Imperial Defence: Home (Ports) Defence Committee, Minutes of meetings, 1909-1939

CAB13 Committee of Imperial Defence: Home (Ports) Defence Committee, Memoranda etc, 1909-1939

CAB14 Committee of Imperial Defence: Air Committee, all papers, 1912-14

CAB15 Committee of Imperial Defence: Co-ordination of Departmental Action Committee, 1911-1939

CAB16 Committee of Imperial Defence: Ad hoc Sub-committees of Enquiry, 1905-39

CAB34 Committee of Imperial Defence: Standing Sub-committees, 1921-22

CAB35 Committee of Imperial Defence: Imperial Communications Committee, 1911-39

CAB36 Committee of Imperial Defence: Joint Overseas and Home Defence Committee, 1920-39

CAB46 Committee of Imperial Defence: Air Raids Precautions Committees, 1924-1939

CAB47 Committee of Imperial Defence: Advisory Committee on Trade Questions in War, 1924-39

CAB48 Committee of Imperial Defence: Industrial Intelligence in Foreign Countries, 1928-39

CAB49 Committee of Imperial Defence: Standing Committee on Censorship, 1924-39

CAB50 Committee of Imperial Defence: The Oil Board, 1925-39

CAB51 Committee of Imperial Defence: Middle East Questions, 1930-39

CAB52 Committee of Imperial Defence: War Legislation Committees, 1924-39

CAB54 Committee of Imperial Defence: Deputy Chiefs of Staff Committee, 1932-39

CAB55 Committee of Imperial Defence: Joint Planning Committee, 1923-39

CAB60 Committee of Imperial Defence: Principal Supply Officers' Committee, 1924-39
Records of Cabinet Committees, 1916 to 1939

CAB26 Cabinet Home Affairs Committee

CAB27 Cabinet Committees: General series to 1939

CAB28 Allied (War) Conferences

CAB58 The Economic Advisory Council
Records of Cabinet Committees, etc, 1939 to 1945

CAB69 Defence Committee (Operations)

CAB70 Defence Committee (Supply)

CAB71 Lord President's Committees

CAB72 Committees on Economic Policy

CAB73 Committees on Civil Defence

CAB74 Ministerial Committee on Food Policy

CAB76 Committees on Imperial Communications and Censorship

CAB77 Committees on Oil Policy

CAB78 Ad hoc Committees (General and Miscellaneous)

CAB79 Chiefs of Staff Committee (Minutes of Meetings)

CAB80 Chiefs of Staff Committee (Memoranda)

CAB81 Chiefs of Staff Committees and Sub-committees

CAB82 Deputy Chiefs of Staff Committees and Sub-committees

CAB83 Ministerial Committee on Military Coordination

CAB84 Joint Planning Committees

CAB85 Anglo-French Committees

CAB86 Committees on the Battle of the Atlantic and Anti U-Boat Warfare

CAB87 Committees on Reconstruction

CAB88 Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee and Sub-Committee

CAB90 Scientific Advisory Committees

CAB91 Committees on India

CAB92 Committees on Supply, Production, Priority and Manpower

CAB94 Overseas Defence Committee

CAB95 Committees on the Middle East and Africa

CAB96 Committees on the Far East

CAB97 Shipping Committees

CAB98 Miscellaneous Committees

CAB107 Coordination of departmental action in the event of war with Certain Countries
Records of Cabinet Committees, etc, 1945 onwards

Not yet available
Records of Imperial, Commonwealth and International Conferences, etc

Records of international and imperial, later Commonwealth, conferences for which the Cabinet Office supplied the secretariat:

CAB29 Peace conferences and other international conferences to 1939

CAB30 Washington (Disarmanent) Conference, 1921-22

CAB31 Genoa (International Economic) Conference, 1922

CAB32 Imperial Conferences to 1939

CAB43 Conference on Ireland, 1921-22

CAB99 Imperial, Commonwealth and International Conferences, 1939-45

CAB133 not yet available
Records of the Central Statistical Office

CAB89 Survey of Economic and Financial Plans, 1939-41
Level Fonds
Admin history Cabinet Office
The central purpose of the Cabinet Office is to act as the secretariat for the Cabinet and its committees. Its work mainly consists of the arrangement of meetings, circulation of agendas and papers, the preparation of minutes, and the drafting of reports. While at the centre of Government, the Cabinet Office does not exert influence on policy making, as its role is essentially secretarial.

While the Office does not usually have an executive role in the carrying out of Cabinet decisions, which is the duty of the relevant government department, it has had co-ordination functions at various times. This was especially the case during the Second World War. The Office has also developed areas of expertise, which are cross-departmental in nature, on which it offers advice such as drafts of answers to parliamentary questions, conduct of ministers and security. To record such work the Cabinet Office maintains a registry. The confidential nature of much of the material dealt with by the Office has also led to the development of a confidential library.

From the first meeting of the War Cabinet on the 9 December 1916, Maurice Hankey, the Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence, was in attendance and the Cabinet Office came into being.

At the end of the First World War and the return to a full cabinet in 1919 the Cabinet Office was reorganised. There was a Home Affairs Branch, which became the Cabinet Office proper, and an Imperial, External Affairs and Defence Branch, which in 1922 emerged as the secretariat of the Committee of Imperial Defence, Hankey being secretary of both. However, there was no basic change from the War Cabinet methods of record keeping and by the mid-1920s the Cabinet Office was confirmed as a permanent part of the machinery of government.

During the Peace Conference of 1919 to 1920 the Office also had an office in Paris.

In November 1922 duties in connection with the League of Nations, undertaken by the Cabinet Office since November 1919, and International Conferences were transferred to the Foreign Office.

The Cabinet Office also provided the secretariat for the Committee of Civil Research from 1925, it successor the Economic Advisory Council from 1930, and the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence from 1936.

When Edward Bridges succeeded Hankey in 1938 the composite office became known as the Offices of the Cabinet, Committee of Imperial Defence, Economic Advisory Council and Minister for Co-ordination of Defence.

During the Second World War, there was no basic change in the organisation of the Office. It came to include the Chiefs of Staff organisation, the staff of the Minister of Defence from May 1940 and in 1941 the Central Statistical Office and Economic Section.

A Special Secret Information Centre was set up in London in 1941 and certain co-ordinating functions passed to the Ministry of Production in 1942 and to the Ministry of Reconstruction in 1943. Since the end of the Second World War the functions of the Cabinet Office remain substantially as established by Hankey, though it has grown in size, and acquired responsibility for certain organisations largely independent of the Cabinet secretariat itself.

The Central Policy Review Staff came under the Office between 1970 and 1983, as does the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government.

Other functions are frequently laid on the office, some temporarily and some permanently. Non-departmental ministers and officials may be attached to it, examples being the attachment of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, with special responsibility for policies in respect of UK accession to the European Communities in the early 1970s.

The governments of the 1980s and 1990s initiated a programme of legal and administrative reform of government structures and civil service management processes. Although more radical, these changes were in some ways a continuation of the reforms which had flowed from the Fulton Report and had led to the establishment of the Civil Service Department. That department was dissolved in December 1981, its responsibilities for efficiency, personnel management and training passing to a new Management and Personnel Office (MPO). In 1982 the Management and Personnel Office, including the Ceremonial Branch, was incorporated within the Cabinet Office structure, reflecting the Prime Minister's responsibility as Minister for the Civil Service, but with day to day responsibility carried by variously, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1981-1982 and 1984-1985), the Lord Privy Seal (1982-1983) and the Minister of State at the Privy Council Office (1983-1984 and 1985-1988). In 1988 it was renamed the Office of the Minister for the Civil Service. In 1992 it was combined with a new Office of Science and Technology to form the Office of Public Service and Science, with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster as its political head.

Responsibility for the Civil Service Occupational Health Service was inherited by the Office of Public Service and Science from the Office of the Minister for the Civil Service in 1992.

The Ceremonial Branch also became part of the Office of Public Service and Science in 1992.

In 1994 a new post of director general of the research councils was created within the Cabinet Office, the incumbent serving also as chairman of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils.

In 1995 the Competitiveness and Deregulation divisions were transferred from the Department of Trade and Industry to the Cabinet Office as part of the responsibility of the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State. Cabinet Functions and Procedure

The Prime Minister includes in the Cabinet ministers heading the major government departments and other ministers without specific portfolios who have less onerous duties. Traditionally peacetime cabinets have had about twenty members, although there has been a tendency for larger cabinets in the recent past. The Cabinet owes its existence to no statute. It has no independent legal authority and no fixed rules of procedure, which are at the discretion of the Prime Minister of the day. Nevertheless, it is the forum that formulates government policy and its decisions are accepted without question throughout government. These decisions are carried out by departments and the Cabinet provides the mechanism that reconciles the principles of ministerial and collective responsibility, whereby ministers are responsible for their own area but share a collective responsibility for the actions of the Government as a whole.

Much of the detailed work of the Cabinet is carried out in committees, which may often frame decisions that will simply be ratified by the full Cabinet. The Cabinet itself usually only considers major issues of policy, those of potential public criticism or those that have caused conflict and been unresolved elsewhere.

The first Rules of Procedure are those by the War Cabinet's first Secretary, Sir Maurice Hankey, on 24 January 1917. The basic procedure has changed little since and is usually laid out in Instructions to the Secretary accepted by an early meeting of each new administration. Issues are raised in memoranda that are circulated before a meeting and are noted in numbered order on the agenda. Matters are discussed at the Cabinet meeting and minutes, or conclusions, are drawn up later, which are circulated to ministers for action or information and to the sovereign. Cabinet conclusions are not verbatim accounts of the meetings but consist of summaries of the discussion together with a note of the decisions reached. They do not generally reveal conflict within Cabinet. Particularly confidential minutes are said to be recorded in the Secretary's Standard File which became the Confidential Annexes.

Cabinet History

Since its origins in the early eighteenth century, the Cabinet met with no formal agenda, and no minutes of proceedings were kept before the appointment of a Secretary to the War Cabinet in December 1916. However, from the early nineteenth century an increasing number of papers prepared by ministers and officials were printed and circulated to the Cabinet, and it was a long established practice for the Prime Minister to send a personal letter to the Sovereign after each meeting to report proceedings.

The full Cabinet continued to meet even after the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914. Immediate control of the conduct of the war, in the absence of the suspended Committee of Imperial Defence, passed successively to the War Council, the Dardanelles Committee and the War Committee. On the fall of Asquith, the War Committee and full Cabinet meetings were suspended by Lloyd George in favour of a War Cabinet, which was to undertake the supreme direction of the war.

The War Cabinet, which met for the first time on 9 December 1916, had only five members, the Prime Minister and four others, only one of whom, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had departmental responsibilities. Subsequently the membership of the War Cabinet was increased to seven. However, departmental ministers and officials and naval and military officers attended whenever necessary, to give their views on matters before the War Cabinet.

The absence of any record of Cabinet decisions and of any regular machine for co-ordination between Cabinet and departments had already proved a hindrance to the efficient prosecution of the war; the exclusion from the War Cabinet of departmental ministers made it even more difficult to maintain traditional methods of conducting Cabinet business. Consequently, the secretariat of the Committee of Imperial Defence, which had already served the War Council, Dardanelles Committee and War Committee, was put to the use of the War Cabinet.

A series of meetings, known as the Imperial War Cabinet, took place during 1917-1919 in London between prime ministers and other ministers of the Dominions, representatives of the Government of India and members of the British War Cabinet.

With the end of the war in 1918 and the demands of the Peace Conference, the War Cabinet met less often and the numbers attending it gradually increased. The first meeting of the peacetime Cabinet of twenty members was on 4 November 1919.

Lloyd George as Prime Minister also held a number of informal meetings with ministers between October 1919 and September 1922, known as Conferences of Ministers.

From September 1939 to May 1945 the Cabinet and the Committee of Imperial Defence were again replaced by a smaller War Cabinet to oversee the running of the war. This had a restricted membership, varying between five and ten, and usually fairly equally divided between departmental and non-departmental ministers. Various areas of work were dealt with by Committees with a wider representation, some of which had executive functions. Churchill reconstructed Chamberlain's War Cabinet in May 1940 to include representatives of the Labour and Liberal parties.

The War Cabinet sometimes met in underground emergency accommodation in the basement of the Government Offices, Great George Street, London. These rooms became known as the Cabinet War Rooms.

After the defeat of Germany, the Labour and Liberal parties withdrew from the Coalition Government, the members of the War Cabinet resigned, and Churchill formed a 'caretaker government', reverting to a Cabinet of pre-war size, with which the cabinets of subsequent administrations have, with slight variations, conformed. Committee of Imperial Defence

While a Royal Commission (Hartington) set up in 1888 had recommended the 'formation of a naval and military council' and a Joint Naval and Military Committee on Defence met from 1891, the Cabinet did not set up a Defence Committee until 1895. This committee was remodelled to include not only ministers but also the professional heads of the Army and Navy, becoming the Committee of Imperial Defence (CID) in December 1902.

The Committee was formally brought into existence, and completely reconstituted, by Treasury minute of 4 May 1904. The Prime Minister became its chairman and only permanent member, with complete discretion to summon other ministers, Chiefs of Staff, and other experts as required. At the same time the committee was given a permanent secretariat. It was an advisory body with no executive functions. With the assistance of its sub-committees it formulated for the Cabinet general principles on which defence policy should be based; made recommendations to the Cabinet and relevant departments on specialised defence problems; and prepared, in consultation with departments, detailed plans for the effective co-ordination of naval, military and civil authorities in the event of war.

When war came in 1914 the activities of the committee diminished rapidly and by 1915 they were virtually suspended. After the war the CID met twice in 1920, but not again until July 1922; in the interval, matters with which it would normally have dealt were discussed by a Standing Defence Sub-committee.

In 1936 the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence was made deputy chairman of the committee and chairman of various sub-committees.

When the War Cabinet was formed in September 1939 it absorbed the CID, which was not revived after the war, when many of its former concerns passed to the Ministry of Defence, which was set up in 1947.

Sub-Committee Structure

Before 1914, the Committee of Imperial Defence had four permanent sub-committees. The Colonial Defence Committee, which was mainly concerned with the preparation of detailed defence schemes for the dominions and colonies, originated in 1878 as an inter-departmental committee composed of representatives from the Admiralty and the War and Colonial Offices. It lapsed the next year only to be revived in 1885, after the report of a Royal Commission (Carnarvon) on the Defence of British Possessions and Commerce Abroad in 1882. This committee was under the chairmanship of the permanent under-secretary of the Colonial Office. In 1904 it was taken over by the CID and was renamed the Oversea Defence Committee in 1911. To deal with the defences of the home ports and coasts a Home Ports Defence Committee was set up in 1909. This was followed by a Committee on the Co-ordination of Departmental Action on the Outbreak of War in 1911 and an Air Committee in 1912. In addition to these standing committees a large number of ad hoc committees were appointed to deal with particular issues.

After the end of the First World War, all the standing committees were revived, except the Air Committee. They first met late in 1919 or early 1920 and from March 1920 joint meetings of the Oversea and Home Defence Committees were held.

The Imperial Communications Committee became a sub-committee of the CID in June 1920 to be followed by a clutch of committees in 1923 and 1924 dealing with such war organisation issues as air raid precautions, trade, censorship and war legislation.

The Standing Inter-departmental Committee on National Service was set up in 1923, followed by the Principal Supply Officers Committee in 1924 and the Oil Board in 1925.

The main committee dealing with war strategy and planning, that of the Chiefs of Staff, was set up in 1923. It had a number of subordinate committees including the Joint Planning Committee (1927), the Joint Intelligence Committee (1932) and the Deputy Chiefs of Staff Committee (1936).

On the outbreak of war in 1939, many of the committees of the CID, such as the Chiefs of Staff Committee and its subordinates, were taken over by the War Cabinet. The supply organisation of the committee was transferred to the Ministry of Supply. Further details of the administrative history of the standing committees will be found with the relevant class descriptions. Records of Cabinet Committees, 1916 to 1939

In December 1916 the War Cabinet secretariat was made responsible for the secretarial work of all Cabinet committees. Previously, apart from the CID and a few other committees operating between 1914 and 1916 which enjoyed the services of the CID secretariat, no systematic records of Cabinet committees had been kept. With the advent of the War Cabinet there was a considerable proliferation of committees at Cabinet and departmental level. Some of the earlier ones have left no records, since the development of a fully fledged Committee Section in the Cabinet Office occurred rather slowly between 1916 and 1918.

In the inter-war period most Cabinet committees were of an ad hoc nature, appointed to deal with some immediate problem and with terms of reference requiring them to report to the Cabinet.

The only Committee with equivalent status to that of the Committee of Imperial Defence (that is, set up by Treasury minute) was the Committee of Civil Research set up in 1925, which became the Economic Advisory Council in 1930.

Otherwise the only Cabinet committee which had a recognised continuing existence was the Home Affairs Committee established in 1918.

Between the establishment of the secretariat in 1916 and the outbreak of war in 1939, some 900 committees and sub-committees were formed. Records of Cabinet Committees, etc.

During the Second World War the Cabinet Office provided the secretariat for some 400 War Cabinet committees and sub-committees. Before and during the war there was much criticism of the proliferation of committees, and Churchill made two radical reorganisations in the War Cabinet committee structure: in May 1940, with the appointment of the Defence Committee, Lord President's Committee and Production Council; and at the end of 1940, when the Economic Policy Committee and Production Council were dissolved, and the Import and Production Executives and Reconstruction Problems Committee were appointed.

The War Cabinet committees may be classified broadly into those of a military and those of a civil nature.

Of the principal military committees, the Chiefs of Staff Committee and its related committees were taken over by the War Cabinet in 1939 from the Committee of Imperial Defence, with no change in functions, and operated continuously throughout the war. The three chiefs were the professional heads of their own services and were collectively responsible for advising the War Cabinet on any matters affecting or affected by the military aspect of the conduct of the war. A Military Co-ordination Committee was set up as a standing ministerial body in October 1939 under the chairmanship of the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence, to be replaced in May 1940 by a Defence Committee (Operations) to settle strategic matters, and a Defence Committee (Supply) to deal with problems in the supply of equipment to the armed forces. In May 1940 a Home Defence Executive and a Home Defence (Security) Executive were set up to examine problems connected with the possibility of invasion. The latter became in May 1941 the Home Defence Committee, to relieve the chiefs of staff of matters which were not of strategic importance.

In the field of home affairs two committees had been planned before the war and were duly set up. These were the Home Policy (from 1943 Legislation Committee) and Civil Defence Committees. Also rather hurriedly set up at the outbreak of war were the Food Policy and Economic Policy Committees. In May 1940 the Lord President's Committee was set up to co-ordinate these committees. It was reconstituted in October 1940 as a steering committee to watch the general trend of economic development and the work of the economic committees, which it gradually replaced.

A succession of bodies, including the Production Council, and the Production Executive, dealt with the allocation of resources and production priorities until the Ministry of Production was set up in 1942. Another important series of committees dealt with post war reconstruction. A Committee on Reconstruction Problems, set up early in 1941, led to the Beveridge Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services. In January 1943 a Reconstruction Priorities Committee was set up to consider the long-term implications of the Beveridge Report and other post-war claims on the Exchequer. These two committees came to an end when a Minister of Reconstruction was appointed in November 1943, but a new War Cabinet Reconstruction Committee was then established, though its secretariat was provided by the Office of the Minister for Reconstruction.

The War Cabinet Office also provided the secretariat for a number of joint inter-Allied organisations or bodies dealing specifically with Britain's relations with the Allies.

A Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee, composed of the chiefs of staff of the armed forces of the United Kingdom and the USA, was established in January 1942. It met in Washington, where the British Joint Staff Mission, which had been established there in June 1941 and was responsible to the committee, provided representation when the chiefs of staff were not present in person.

One of the directives of the combined chiefs of staff resulted in the establishment of a Combined Munitions Assignment Board in January 1942 to assign supplies for combat forces. Separate boards were set up in Washington and London, the London Munitions Assignment Board dealing with allocation of the products which it controlled to a particular block of countries. Churchill set up an Allied Supplies Executive in October 1941, following the Moscow Conference on the previous month, to programme supplies to Russia, and later to Turkey and China. Much of its work was taken over by the Ministry of Production in 1942, but a small central staff was maintained in the War Cabinet Office.

An Anglo-French Liaison Section of the War Cabinet secretariat, set up in 1939 after the outbreak of war, developed after the fall of France into a Central Office for North American Supplies, which in July 1940 became the secretariat of the North American Supply Committee. In October 1942 it was merged into the Joint American Secretariat, responsible for co-ordinating all policy matters arising in the field of Anglo-American supply. Records of Imperial, Commonwealth and International Conferences etc.

From 1915 Sir Maurice Hankey, as secretary of the War Committee, acted as secretary to the British representatives at a number of inter-allied conferences. When the War Cabinet was formed it became customary for it to supply the British secretariat at such conferences as well as at imperial war conferences.

When the secretariat of the Supreme War Council was established at Versailles in late 1917, the British section was under the control of the War Cabinet Office. When the Peace Conference opened in January 1919, the War Cabinet established an office in Paris and provided the secretariat of the British Empire Delegation.

At the end of 1922 general responsibility for arrangements of British representation at international conferences passed to the Foreign Office, but that for imperial, and later Commonwealth, conferences remained with the Cabinet Office.

Thereafter, although the Cabinet Office still had a concern in international conferences, it was normally a less central one. Sir Maurice Hankey's personal success at the Peace Conference however, led to his appointment as Secretary-General to the Hague, London Naval and Lausanne Conferences in the inter-war period. From 1936 to 1939, purely as an ad hoc arrangement, the office also provided the secretariat for the International Committee for the Application of the Agreement regarding Non-Intervention in Spain. During the Second World War it provided the whole or part of the secretariat for various international meetings, notably the conferences between Churchill and Roosevelt. Records of the Central Statistical Office

The origins of the Central Statistical Office lie in three organisations that came into being at the onset of the Second World War to provide economic information and statistics to the Prime Minister, Cabinet and departments: the Prime Minister's Statistical Branch; the Survey of Economic and Financial Plans, commonly known as the Stamp Survey; and the Economic Section of the War Cabinet.

On his appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty at the beginning of the Second World War, Churchill formed a personal Statistical Branch under Professor Lindemann (later Lord Cherwell). Its functions were to analyse statistics and advise him of economic matters which required his attention. When Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940 this branch became the Prime Minister's Statistical Section, housed in the War Cabinet Offices.

In June 1939 a Survey of Economic and Financial Plans was set up under the chairmanship of Lord Stamp. In November of that year an Interdepartmental Committee on Economic Policy, of which Stamp was a member, approved proposals for the establishment of a Central Economic Information Service to provide the Stamp Survey with economic and statistical material on which to base its work. This unit, formed in December 1939, became known as the Economic Section of the War Cabinet.

These three bodies overlapped to some extent and it was felt that the departments were not getting consistent economic information and statistics. A Cabinet memorandum of 27 January 1941, therefore, set out revised terms for the central collection and presentation of statistical material and economic reports. The most significant development was the establishment of the Central Statistical Office within the War Cabinet Office, for the purpose of collecting a regular series of statistics from government departments covering the development of the War effort. These statistics were to be accepted and used as authoritative in interdepartmental discussions and documents circulated to the War Cabinet and its committees.

The Central Statistical Office took over the statistical work hitherto performed by the Economic Section, the economists remaining as the Economic Section of the War Cabinet to prepare such special reports as were required for the Lord President's Committee; it was transferred to the Treasury on 1 November 1953. The Stamp Survey was disbanded, holding its last meeting on 31 March 1941. The Prime Minister's Statistical Section continued to exist although the bulk of its statistical data was provided by the Central Statistical Office.

After the war the Central Statistical Office continued as part of the Cabinet Office until 1989 when it became a Department under the Treasury as a first step towards becoming an executive agency. It co-ordinates the statistics collected by departments and produces statistics needed for central economic and social policies and management, such as the national accounts, balance of payments, financial statistics and measures of output. It is responsible for a number of statistical publications.
Arrangement The BED series of minutes and memoranda initiated for the British Empire Delegation at the League of Nations in 1920 was also used in a continuous numerical sequence for the Washington Disarmament Conference and the Genoa Economic Conference in 1921 to 1922. The series can be found as follows:

BED Minutes Series:

BED 1-80: CAB29/28

(BED 48-73: duplicated in CAB30/1A)

(BED 74-80: duplicated in CAB31/1)

BED 81-92: CAB29/105

BED Memoranda Series:

BED 1-100: CAB29/100

(BED 72-99: duplicated in CAB30/1B)

BED 101-219: CAB30/1B & CAB30/2

BED 220-380: CAB31/1-2
Publication note See also the introduction to Handlist of papers of the Committee of Imperial Defence to 1914 (PRO Handbook 6) and for a printed note of the Committee of Imperial Defence's committee ciphers see The Cabinet Office to 1945 (PRO Handbook 17), annex 11, pts 1 & 2.
For a printed note of the committee ciphers see The Cabinet Office to 1945 (PRO Handbook 17), annex 11, pts 1 & 2.
For a printed note of the committee ciphers see The Cabinet Office to 1945 (PRO Handbook 17), annex 11, pt 3.
Format Text
Language English
Related material G/617 Records of some Cabinet committees passed to departments which took over their functions and will be found among their records in the PRO: the Munitions of War Committee 1915, in MUN 5; the Reconstruction Committees, 1916 to 1917, in RECO 1 and LCO 3; the Committee on Women in Industry, 1917 to 1919, in LAB 5. Records of the Production Council and Executive are held by PRO in their ref. T 246 and records of some of their sub-committees are in PRO ref. BT 28-BT 30 and BT 87. Records of committees on oil policy will also be found in PRO ref. POWE 34.
Archival history The records that National Archives of Scotland hold under the CAB reference were transmitted to NAS by Cabinet Office in 1998-9. The set which NAS holds is, effectively, the Cabinet Office's spare copy, assembled from the various multiple printed (later photocopied) distributions of committees' minutes and papers/memoranda. As such it is less complete than The National Archives (TNA) version: copies of some series such as the Cabinet Office's administrative files were not available; of the series which were transmitted, many have various components wanting, ranging from individual minutes/memoranda up to long runs of items.

National Records of Scotland, H.M. General Register House, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3YY; tel +44 (0) 131 535 1314; email: historical_enquiries@nrscotland.gov.uk