Culture and Recreation Bill

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 26 March 2001.

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Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Transport and the Regions) 2:30, 26 March 2001

What plans he has to bring forward amendments to the Culture and Recreation Bill on the recording of archaeological sites and historic monuments by local authorities.

Photo of Mr Alan Howarth Mr Alan Howarth Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts)

Amendments on that matter have already been tabled. The Government have no present intention of tabling others.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Transport and the Regions)

The Minister will be aware that many local authorities already keep records of archaeological monuments and historical sites, but there is great disparity between the detail and the extent of those records, which causes problems for researchers of archaeology and history and for those hoping to develop brownfield and greenfield sites. Will he give me an undertaking that he will support the amendment long since tabled by my noble Friend Lord Renfrew, which would deal with the matter and which has enormous support among everybody involved and interested in archaeology and heritage? Will the Minister stop prevaricating and give that widely supported measure his backing in the Lords so that we can get on with it?

Photo of Mr Alan Howarth Mr Alan Howarth Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts)

The hon. Gentleman is right in what he says about sites and monuments records, but rather than legislate on such records, we are attracted to going further, along the lines proposed in the heritage review, to provide for more wide-ranging historical environment record centres. May I suggest that he ask his hon. Friends on the Front Bench why they have sought to block all progress on the Culture and Recreation Bill? He should ask them also to explain how the costs of additional archaeological recording would be met in view of their intention to cut £16 billion of public expenditure.