Accounting Standards Committee Archive

Scope and Content

Archive of the Accounting Standards Committee, a committee of the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies which was active in the 1970s and 1980s in developing standards for the UK accountancy profession. The archive provides comprehensive documentation of the Committee's work, and is an essential resource for the history of accountancy and accounting standards in the second half of the twentieth century, and has value for broader studies of British business and financial history in this period.

Documents includes agendas and agenda papers, minutes, correspondence, memoranda, press releases, press cuttings, government and other reports, draft and published copies of standards, offprints and copies of articles and extracts from books. The collection also contains the papers of the ASC's predecessor body, the Accounting Standards Steering Committee (ASSC).

Permanent Papers (ASC/1) includes all material with an 'IP' prefix [meaning a permanent record] The permanent files contain an outline record of the development and results of a project. Some files in this series have "M" and "P" prefixes , indicating material unboxed before transfer to Manchester, Permanent files mostly have a '12-100-" identifier, indicating an ASC subject file.

Routine papers (ASC/2) includes material formerly in boxes prefixed "IR", and contain 'routine' files, usually having a 'R' prefix; these files relate to every work and administration of the ASC. Most routine files also have a '12-100-' identifier.

Miscellaneous papers (ASC/3), marked with a 'M' prefix includes permanent, routine and unmarked files, mostly '12-100-' files.

Minutes and Agenda (ASC/4) consist of the agenda, minutes, and papers for meetings of the ASC (files marked AS/N). These minutes are available on microfilm, and only the 'duplicate' microfilms are available for public consultation.

ASX Boxes (ASC/5) contain general ASC material, and some files without an original identifier.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Accounting Standards Committee was originally set up as the Accounting Standards Steering Committee [ASSC] by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales [ICAEW] in 1970. Its creation followed several accounting scandals in the late 1960s, and the Committee was charged with developing a system of definitive standards for financial reporting and accounting in the UK.

Other UK accountancy bodies soon came to be represented on the ASSC: the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland [ICAS] and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland [ICAI] joined in April 1970; the Association of Certified Accountants [ACA] and the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants [ICMA] joined in 1971; and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy [CIPFA] joined the Committee in 1976. [The ICMA later became the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants - CIMA - and the ACA later became the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants - CACA]. Meanwhile, in 1970, the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies [CCAB] had been formed in order to facilitate better co-ordination between these 6 bodies, and in February 1976 the ASSC was reconstituted as the Accounting Standards Committee [ASC], which reported to the CCAB (in 1985, the ASC became a full committee of the CCAB).

The original aims of the ASC were defined as:

"to propose standards to its governing bodies concerning concepts of financial reporting, a definition of terms, the form and content of financial statements, and the application of these matters to particular classes of business;

to publish consultative documents with the aim of advancing and maintaining accounting standards;

to keep standards under review;

and to consult, as appropriate, persons concerned with financial reporting. "

The original aims of the ASSC had been very similar.

The ASC developed as a quasi-regulatory body for the accounting profession in its area of competence. The everyday work of the Committee was undertaken by a secretariat within the ICAEW Technical Directorate; the secretariat playing an active role in developing standards. Originally the ASC aimed to devise 'definitive' statements on financial accounting and reporting, although this was later modified to 'authoritative' statements in recognition of the complex realities of accounting practices. However, members of Institutes were expected to abide by the recommended standards, or if they did not, to explain the reasons for their departure from them.

Reforms to the ASC constitution in 1982, saw Committee membership opened to users of financial information in business and the public sector, and Government observers were also permitted to attend. In 1988 the Dearing Report on Accounting Standards was published , recommending several reforms, including the creation of a Financial Reporting Council (FRC), and an Accounting Standards Board. Following this, the Accounting Standards Board, a subsidiary body of the FRC, replaced the ASC in 1990.


The archive is arranged into the following series:

  • ASC/1 - Permanent Papers
  • ASC/2 - Routine Papers
  • ASC/3 - Miscellaneous Papers
  • ASC/4 - Minutes and Agenda
  • ASC/5 - ASX Boxes (general material)

Official file titles are reproduced in the title of the documents; imputed or informal titles are recorded in the scope and content note for the relevant item.

The archive was transferred in its original boxes, and classified according to the ICAEW index system. As far as possible this arrangement has been preserved.

Access Information

The archive is stored offsite. A minimum notice period of three working days is required for access to any part of the collection; please contact Special Collections Reader Services for further details (

Access conditions apply to a number of items in this collection, and some material is currently closed to public inspection by request of the CCAB.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 2018. The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for archiving and research purposes according to the provisions of the Act. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Acquisition Information

The collection was deposited at the John Rylands University Library in 1991 by the CCAB via the University's Centre for Empirical Research in Accounting and Finance. The archive was transferred to the Library in two accessions in 1991 and 1992.

Other Finding Aids

The archive has previously been described in Handbook for the Accounting Standards Committee Archive , Working Papers in Accounting and Finance no.93/1: Centre for Empirical Research in Accounting and Finance 1993. The archive was originally catalogued in 1991/2 by Elizabeth Howlin.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Microfilm reader required for microfilm copies of minutes in ASC/4.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Keeper of Manuscripts and Archives, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Related Material

The Library also holds the records of the Auditing Practices Committee, APC