This series consists of a series of miscellaneous unregistered papers originating in the Private Office of the Cabinet Secretary. They were gathered together for the personal use of the Cabinet Secretary in the exercise of his duties. In many cases, they represent his copy of departmental or committee papers on an issue either of Whitehall-wide interest, or of particular concern to the Cabinet Secretary in his central coordinating role. On important subjects, members of the Cabinet Secretariat would augment the correspondence with related papers for ease of consultation by the Cabinet Secretary.
The archive covers a wide range of subjects. The earlier papers in this collection, relating principally to the Second World War, are concerned primarily with intelligence-related matters, particularly in relation to the use of the Secret Vote to fund wartime intelligence activities.
This previously unsorted archive was collected piecemeal by successive Cabinet Secretaries. It begins with papers brought from HM Treasury to the Cabinet Office by Sir Edward Bridges, Cabinet Secretary from 1938-1946, when he took office. He then added to this nucleus, using the archive as a repository for papers that required restricted circulation and safe keeping.
Some issues were time-sensitive, that is, government ministers did not want information to leak out in advance of an important decision or development. At times papers were placed in the archive when no one knew quite where else to put them. But the archive also offered an opportunity to keep a personal set for the Cabinet Secretary of papers on cross-cutting issues, with related correspondence and other material, such as Hansard entries or press cuttings. This practice was continued by Bridges' successors.
Because it was a confidential and unregistered collection, it was never brought into the main run of Cabinet Office records. However, Lord Wilson, when Cabinet Secretary, set in train the process of sorting the archive and reviewing it for possible transfer to The National Archives, and it has continued under his successors.
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