Clause 2 - Meaning of ''tainted cultural object''

Part of Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 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) 3:00 pm, 14th May 2003

I am grateful to the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham for having tabled the amendment, because it is worth debating the matter. I have had extensive debates and I am grateful to Professor Norman Palmer, chairman of ITAP, and to Anthony Browne of the British Art Market Federation for their efforts to explain their concerns and suggest alternatives. I am not persuaded by the amendment. As my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland says, there is a difficulty with introducing new problems into the scope of the clause.

My discussions highlighted a specific group of offences that could trigger tainting but which we would not intend to cover—those under health and safety legislation, which one can imagine being breached in the course of an excavation. An amendment that introduces the concept of failure to comply with procedures required in respect of removal or excavation explicitly points towards health and safety offences as something that would trigger tainting. That is not our intention.

We have a difficulty in trying to narrow down what we are seeking to achieve, because we are, as the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham points out, relating the offence to all sorts of other jurisdictions. People need to understand how heritage protection law works in other jurisdictions and I hope that we can help them to do so. UNESCO has a major role in

trying to create a database, so that people can be aware of the legislation of other countries. We cannot be too prescriptive if we are creating an offence that can be triggered by a range of breaches of different people's heritage legislation. The Italian example, which the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Roger Casale) mentioned, is a good one. Italy has comprehensive heritage protection legislation, which works differently from that in the United Kingdom. Scotland, too, has different legislation. For example, its concept of the removal of archaeological objects is much wider than that in England, where scheduled ancient monuments have protection but objects outside them do not. I understand that, in Scotland, the removal of anything could constitute an offence.