The Ancient Monuments Board for England, the Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland and the Ancient Monuments Board for Wales shall each, before such date in every year as the Minister may fix, send to the Minister a report on the discharge by them of their functions during the previous year, and the Minister shall lay a copy of each such report before each House of Parliament.—[Sir D. Eccles.]
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch (Mr. N. Nicolson) asked in Committee that the Ancient Monuments Boards should make an annual report to me and that that report should be laid before Parliament. We willingly accepted his Amendment, but asked that we might re-draft it. We have done so, and I hope that the new Clause will meet with my hon. Friend's approval. I would say that, in order to make these annual reports of greater interest, it will be a good thing to add some description of the work of the Department—what we have been doing in the way of excavation and preservation—to a description of the work of the Ancient Monuments Boards themselves. That is in no way derogatory to the work that these Boards do, and I believe that they would be the first to agree that we shall make it a more interesting document if we add a description of the work of the Department.
As I originated this proposal in Committee, I should like to thank my right hon. Friend for having incorporated it in the final Bill, and also for adding the previous Clause, which extends the present English Ancient Monuments Board to two brothers or sisters in Wales and Scotland. I hope that now that we have these three Ancient Monuments Boards, which correspond roughly to the three Historic Buildings Councils set up under Part I of the Bill, the Ancient Monuments Boards will be given slightly more responsibility, and urged to take a rather more active interest in the ancient monuments under their control.
It is not their fault, but I understand that they have been meeting only once a year, and they have to look after some 50,000 ancient monuments, of which only 7,000 or 8,000 have so far been scheduled. I hope that the Minister of Works will welcome these three boards as partners and collaborators. The views of the boards and of the Ancient Monuments Department of the Ministry may not always coincide, but that is all the more reason why the Ministry should welcome a second opinion from the very distinguished men who serve upon those boards.