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

Again I may reply only by leave of the House. I recognise that the right hon. Gentleman desires only to be helpful in this matter. I thought I made clear that in my view it would be quite wrong to make it a criminal offence of which people could be found guilty, unless it was found that there had been a wilful act to cause damage. If, for example, it was possible to prove that a bulldozer had been taken to make a gap in an ancient earthwork, I imagine the court would have no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that an offence had been committed.

But a question of ploughing must depend on the circumstances. If, for example, an earthwork encroached only on a corner of a field, and the person ploughing damaged it accidentally, the court might consider the intent to damage was absent. I do not think we can improve the new Clause by adding further words to it. The word "injure" is wide, and we may leave the matter to the good sense of the magistrates. With Clause 14 extended as it is by this new Clause there can be prosecutions against all persons, including the owner of an ancient monument.