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

Part of Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 14th May 2003.

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Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation 3:15 pm, 14th May 2003

I do not want to detain the Committee; I know that every member wants to make progress. However, the hon. Gentleman seems momentarily to have lost sight of the purpose of the Bill, which is to strangle the trade in looted cultural objects. Regardless of whether it is a chandelier or lead from the roof of a palace, I believe that we need the wider definition.

I shall make my point briefly. We are told in the e-newsletter of the Society of Antiquaries that the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings has expressed concern that it is not only great cultural objects such as paintings or Roman statues that need to be protected—the Bill would protect such items—but that

''there is a worrying trend towards the theft of humbler bidding materials. Where once thieves targeted the lead on church roofs, they now strip Cotswold barns of roofing tile, demolish dry stone walls for their limestone, steal bricks from estate walls (as happened at Melton Constable just before Christmas last year), and lift paving slabs from the very streets of historic towns.''

It also says that the theft of paving slabs has been fuelled by garden makeover programmes on television.