Clause 1 - Offence of dealing in tainted cultural objects

Part of Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 14 May 2003.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 2:15, 14 May 2003

Like other hon. Members, I support the Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam. It is necessary, and it is exceptionally well and cleverly drafted. That is not something that I often have the opportunity to say in a Committee Room.

This debate seems to have been something of an archaeological travelogue, so I may as well place on record the fact that I represent Skara Brae, Maes Howe and more chambered cairns and brochs than the average archaeologist could shake a towel at. We also have our 12th-century cathedral. Slowly, over time, we have learned to live with its modernity. I am aware that the Bill extends to England and Wales but not to Scotland, so I speak with some hesitation. I hope that once it has found its way on to the statute book, as I sincerely hope it does, Scottish Ministers will find an opportunity to enact a similar provision north of the border.

I listened with some interest to the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton). May I offer him a word or two of reassurance regarding his colleague's rifle? It seems to me unless it had been excavated at some stage or had formed part of a building, it would not be a tainted cultural object. Although I always think that any admission of lawlessness from the party of law and order—as the Conservatives would have us believe they are—is interesting, I think that the hon. Gentleman and his friend can sleep easy on this occasion.