New Clause. — (Injury to Ancient Monuments by Their Owners.)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd July 1953.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Northamptonshire South 12:00 am, 22nd July 1953

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

In the course of the Committee stage an Amendment was moved in the hope of extending the operation of Clause 13 (1) of the Bill by inserting a reference to damage. For the reasons I advanced in Committee, it is inappropriate to make that alteration in that Clause. In the course of our debates in Committee the view was expressed, on both sides, that it was desirable to strengthen the law, if possible, so as to deter people from defacing or injuring ancient monuments.

It emerged that, under the law as it now is, while there is power to prosecute any person for injuring or defacing a monument, that power does not exist in relation to the owner of the monument unless it is under the guardianship of the Ministry of Works or a local authority. I undertook to consider in the short time available, whether or not some amendment of the law could be made to deal with that point. It is for that reason that the new Clause is on the Order Paper.

Under Section 14 of the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act, 1913, it is an offence for anyone other than the owner—and for the owner where the Ministry of Works or the local authority have been constituted guardians—to injure or deface any monument in respect of which the Ministry of Works or the local authority are the owners or guardians, or any monument which is the subject of a preservation order, or to which Section 14 applies by Order in Council—and now, by subsection (1, a) of this new Clause, any monument which is the subject of an interim preservation notice.

The new Clause will have the effect of making it possible to prosecute an owner who injures and defaces a monument. At the same time, we have taken steps to secure that the remedy of an injunction which is available for a breach of Clause 13 (1), when there is any removal or demolition of or addition to or alteration of an ancient monument without the consent of the Ministry of Works, can still be open where the conduct of the owner or other person amounts to an infringement of the obligation placed upon him by Clause 13 (1). I hope that the new Clause goes a considerable way to meet points of view put forward on both sides during the Committee stage and I think it will certainly mean an improvement in our law.