Clause 1 - Offence of dealing in tainted cultural objects

Part of Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 14th May 2003.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Richard Allan Mr Richard Allan Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry) 2:30 pm, 14th May 2003

I am grateful to all hon. Members for their support.

The hon. Member for Salisbury spoke about metal detectorists—is that a neologism? There has been some debate about whether the Bill is aimed at people who use metal detectors, but that is certainly not the case. Metal detecting is a legitimate activity provided that the permission of the landowner has been sought. It should not take place on scheduled ancient monuments. If, as happened recently at Yeavering Bell in Northumbria, detectorists from the wrong side of town, commonly known as nighthawks, deliberately metal detect on the sites of ancient monuments such as those in Wiltshire and try to sell what they find, anyone who buys it will be caught under the Bill. For the ordinary business of metal detecting, other provisions such as the Treasure Act 1996 come into force, and the activity is not outlawed by the Bill.

The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham made an interesting contribution. He picked up on the question of looting in Latin America. That is relevant to the question whether someone knows or believes that an object is tainted. One of the most significant recent developments has been the creation by the International Council of Museums of its red list procedures. The red list defines the categories of material, initially from west African

counties, that are likely to have been looted. ICOM recently extended the red list to Latin America, the announcement taking place after a meeting in Colombia.

That sort of procedure is important; it is the other side of the coin. Having a red list means that the material becomes widely known; it is a statement that such material is likely to have been looted. It then becomes reasonable to expect a significant degree of checking—rather more than in the case of material that has not been so clearly and publicly identified. In the current situation, one would expect people to carry out a more thorough check on the provenance of certain types of material from the middle east than under normal circumstances. That is a reasonable test to apply.

The hon. Gentleman wondered whether the rifle that he mentioned had been given as a gift to the people of Pakistan. I suspect that it would have been given posthumously if it was related to the Afghan wars of that time.

That is all that I need to say. I echo my thanks to all members of the Committee, who have supported the Bill thus far.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.