Enforcement: costs

Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 15 November 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament each year a report setting out the costs incurred by the following bodies in fulfilling the requirements of this Act—

(a) the cultural property protection unit within the Ministry of Defence,

(b) Border Force,

(c) the Arts and Antiquities Unit of the Metropolitan Police,

(d) UK police authorities, and

(e) any other publicly funded body carrying out functions for the purposes of cultural protection under this Act.

(2) The first report under subsection (1) shall be laid within 12 months of this Act being passed.

(3) Reports laid under this section shall include an account of how bodies specified under subsection (1) communicate and cooperate with each other in protecting cultural property in compliance with this Act.’.—

Brought up, and read the First time.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 4—Safeguarding cultural property—

‘At the end of the period of one year following the passing of this Act, the Secretary of State shall lay a report before each House of Parliament on which cultural properties situated within the UK have been listed as protected by this Act, and how the Government has safeguarded them against the foreseeable effect of an armed conflict, in accordance with Article 3 of the Convention.’

New clause 5—Cultural Protection Fund—

‘At the end of the period of one year following the passing of this Act, and every two years thereafter, the Secretary of State shall lay a report before both Houses of Parliament on the work of the Cultural Protection Fund in supporting the implementation

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage)

New clauses 1, 4 and 5 stand in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting. New clause 1 is designed to facilitate discussion on how much the cultural protection outlined in the Bill will cost the publicly funded bodies involved in its implementation, how the Government propose those costs should be met and how those bodies will be joined up in that effort. For the sake of clarity, I will go through each of the bodies specified in the new clause in turn.

Will the Minister indicate how much funding the cultural property unit within the Ministry of Defence will receive, what its size and resourcing will be and how each of those factors are projected to look in future? I am aware that the Ministry of Defence, like all Government Departments, is operating on a tight budget. I am also interested in the funding that will be available for training. We understand that the MOD will be looking for members of the armed forces who are knowledgeable about archaeology and other historical subjects, as was discussed on Second Reading. I pointed out then—I was backed up by Tim Loughton—that, with regard to joined-up Government, talking about having more members of our armed forces who are experts in those fields while simultaneously cutting so-called soft subjects in our schools, such as archaeology, art history and classical civilisation at A-level, seems to me to send out an extremely mixed message.

Nevertheless, will the Minister indicate what funding will be made available to try to compensate for the knowledge gap that will create in future, and to ensure that membership of the so-called monuments squad—I will call them that rather than monuments men—will not be limited to those fortunate enough to have been offered those now-rare subjects in school or as an enrichment to their school activities? The impact assessment seems to suggest zero cost to the Ministry of Defence. We are always interested to know how something can be delivered at zero cost, so perhaps the Minister could clarify that.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage)

The Minister says “Tory Government” from a sedentary position. I hope that she is not saying that they are not paying the people in the monuments squad for their work. We in the Opposition certainly believe in the rate for the job when somebody is working. I am sure that she will clarify that in her response.

The second body mentioned in our new clause is the Border Force, which we all know has been subject to large budget cuts—more than £300 million in the run-up to 2015 by the coalition Government—and simultaneously came under the increasing pressure of public expectation in relation to preventing illegal immigration. As we see with every public service, expectations are high, but it is difficult for those expectations always to be met if funding is continuously cut. That said, I understand from the Government’s assurances in the Lords that any new costs incurred by the Border Force in enforcing the Bill will not be significant, and that its new responsibilities will not differ greatly from its current day-to-day business.

The Government have stated that the Border Force already carries out the functions required by the Bill in relation to the 2003 Iraq and Syria sanctions. Will the Minister assure us that that is indeed the case? Furthermore, while the work derived from the Bill may not differ significantly from the current everyday business, is there likely to be an increase in workload in relation to the Bill? If so, what provisions are the Government making?

It has been stated that, in regard to a code of practice, resources on cultural goods are available on the Border Force intranet site, and I understand that the Border Force will be expected to seize goods when instructed to do so, rather than be expected to discover the goods’ illegally-exported status itself. As I mentioned, many duties under the Bill are already performed by the Border Force. Does the Minister think that the passage of the Bill will require further robust training in the handling of cultural goods?

Baroness Neville-Rolfe stated:

“Enforcement practices relating to combating smuggling are often the same regardless of the type of goods.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 28 June 2016; Vol. 773, c. 1529.]

While that may be true, there are also unique sensitivities when dealing with often antiquated and fragile items of cultural property, which, as all parties have agreed, are of immeasurable value. This question is particularly relevant in the light of comments made by the former director of the unit within the Metropolitan police, Dick Ellis, who said:

“These pieces are moving through customs, they’re moving through our ports all the time. And yet not a single item is seized in this country… these sorts of objects when they’re looted in Syria, when they’re looted in Iraq, are helping to fund terrorism, why on earth aren’t we doing more to stop them coming on to the market?”

That is not just a question for the Border Force, because, as the new clause specifies, institutions need to communicate and co-operate with each other to protect cultural property. The Government have clarified the fact that the Border Force would not be expected to identify illegal goods, so the matter of how those separate institutions, with their separate but related functions, will be joined up is therefore crucial.

Does the Minister feel that a dedicated unit within the Border Force, with a close communication link to the equivalent unit within the Metropolitan police, is necessary properly to enforce the Bill and, crucially, to provide a robust and credible deterrent with respect to those who would attempt to bring illegally exported cultural property into the UK?

I turn now to the arts and antiquities unit of the Metropolitan police, which is composed—

Photo of Victoria Borwick Victoria Borwick Conservative, Kensington

As a point of record, because it keeps coming up as an error, it is the art and antiques unit. I believe that point has been made before. It is not art and antiquities; it is the art and antiques unit.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage)

I am pleased to have that correction, because my notes say “antiquities” so I shall correct myself as I go along. I turn to the arts and antiques unit of the Metropolitan police, which I understand is composed of three people. As the hon. Lady has visited, perhaps she can tell me whether I am right in that.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage)

The hon. Lady is nodding, so at least I got that right.

For now, suffice it to say that regulating this industry—which, particularly in relation to the auction market, is sometimes lacking in information regarding who owns what, as we have heard already—poses a rather large challenge for this team of three people.

Indeed, Dick Ellis, the aforementioned founder of the unit, has acknowledged that the team is not big enough—again, the hon. Lady is nodding—to solve the problems in the industry. Furthermore, it seems that, apart from an evidence room, this team does not have any special resources or equipment.

Does the Minister foresee this unit’s workload, and of course the subsequent cost, increasing in any way following the passage of the Bill, given the lack of special resources for the long-term storage of cultural property during legal proceedings? Will the Metropolitan police unit receive more resources or will items be kept elsewhere— [Interruption.]

Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.

On resuming—

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage)

We were discussing new clauses 1, 4 and 5. Before the Division bell rang, I was saying that the Metropolitan police does not have many special resources for the long-term storage of cultural property during legal proceedings and asking the Minister whether any more resources will be provided to the Metropolitan police unit, or whether it is intended that, should items need to be stored, they will be stored somewhere else in a specialist environment, such as the British Museum.

That brings me to museums, galleries and archives, some of which receive public funding. Baroness Neville-Rolfe stated that while she was slightly open-minded on the topic, she thought it generally inappropriate for establishments to display artefacts deposited there for safekeeping. Does the Minister feel that that rules out the possibility of museums, galleries, archives and the like covering the costs of safekeeping, if they want to put items on display, by charging for entry to see them? Again, I am not advocating that, but I wondered if that was a point that the Government had in mind. How should these sorts of institution be funded if they have to perform that task?

Furthermore, the question of joined-up governance returns. How will information pass between the agencies involved in enforcing the Bill? That is especially relevant in relation to the private military contractors and embedded soldiers mentioned previously. Institutions are not as homogeneous as one might think. In essence, the new clause asks how the Government plan to facilitate giving already fairly thinly stretched institutions more to do without any additional resources.

New clause 4 aims to probe the Government on the methods and criteria used to determine which items of cultural property are chosen for protection under the Bill. We have heard in previous debates how the value of cultural property is bound up in both money and morale. Its destruction is therefore used as a weapon of war; it is an attack on people’s pride and identity, and a method of funding further warfare.

There has been cross-party agreement that the importance of cultural property and heritage is a holistic matter. That understanding is crucial to the success of the Bill, but it also poses a challenge when designing criteria. We already have systems of classification for our heritage worldwide, such as designated world heritage sites, and in the UK, such as grade I listed buildings. Can the Minister explain how these criteria in various fields will be joined up, how objects in fields that do not necessarily have an internal ranking system will be incorporated, and which heritage bodies will be consulted in the process?

We said earlier that these cultural objects have to be of great importance and significance, but how one judges that is perhaps ultimately a matter of taste. For example, there are some—I am not necessarily among them—who think that Buckingham Palace is a particularly bad example of botched architecture, and that the way that it was converted to give it its current façade was the 19th-century equivalent of using concrete cladding on a house. However, one would expect a building of such eminence—it also contains significant artworks—to be a cultural object of significant importance, and to be covered by the provisions of the Bill. I mentioned grade I listed buildings. How far down the grades of buildings are the Government willing to offer protection under this legislation? In other words, can they give us some idea of how limited the protection is likely to be under the Bill?

Laying before Parliament a report that outlined a list of properties protected by the Bill would allow for crucial debate and discussion. As I mentioned at the outset, perhaps MPs could bid for the inclusion of an item of cultural property in their constituency that is of great importance to not just them and their constituents, but all peoples of the world. I would say that Llandaff cathedral in my constituency, which was bombed and badly damaged in the second world war, and which has an extremely beautiful and important modern statue by Epstein, is a piece of cultural property that should be of importance to all people. It is difficult to know where the threshold will be in the Bill, so I am interested to know how the Government will liaise with experts from various fields to ensure that adequate measures are taken. Preparing this report will ensure that the public and their elected representatives feel content that their precious heritage is covered. Can the Minister explain how the qualifying artefacts will be determined and what say, if any, the public would have in that process?

New clause 5, which is in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting, seeks to ensure the transparency and accountability of the cultural protection fund. We want to probe how the Government plan to provide for this fund, how it will be resourced and how its different parts will be joined up. We are happy that the Government have committed to giving the fund £30 million over four years, and have set out a timetable for bids and consultation on the fund. Do they have a view on the level of their commitment to the fund following the initial four years? Though the £30 million is welcome as a start, the fund’s aims are ambitious. Are there plans to enhance that level of funding?

The fund will

“support projects involved in cultural heritage protection; training and capacity building; and advocacy and education, primarily focused in the Middle East and north Africa.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 6 June 2016; Vol. 773, c. 584.]

The proposed report would allow Parliament to monitor whether more funding was required to fulfil those ambitions, as I suspect it might well be.

We certainly welcome the co-operation between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the British Council, and agree with the consultation’s conclusion that the British Council’s network and management experience excellently complement the expertise of the heritage industry, and that this collaboration is important to the fund’s success. Can the Minister tell us more about that, and especially about training and resource sharing between those institutions? I understand that the Government have indicated that they are involved with the British Council in developing a long-term strategy. With regard to the long term, the report proposed in the new clause could facilitate debate about the future resource needs of the fund; what countries and technologies should be focused on; and striking a productive balance between providing emergency support for cultural property in areas of armed conflict and supporting the safeguarding of items in peacetime.

There are, of course, many parties that those running the fund will need to liaise with in order to accomplish this, including non-governmental organisations, the military, police, Border Force, museums, archives and galleries—all those bodies that I mentioned previously. I reiterate the proposal made by Lord Collins of Highbury, who argued that the fund’s work, especially on supporting economic and social opportunities through cultural heritage, should be carried out in collaboration with the Department for International Development. Will the Minister indicate whether that will be the case, and outline how the cultural protection fund will relate to the voluntary fund established under the second protocol and run by UNESCO? Again, that is a matter of joined-up government and ensuring good value for money.

As I understand it, the Government have pledged to make sure that the cultural protection fund will be included in their yearly report on this Bill if it is of direct relevance, and that its spending will be scrutinised biannually by the OECD. That commitment is appreciated, but this fund deserves scrutiny in itself, not conditionally depending on its relevance to the Bill. This new clause would provide a mechanism by which the fund’s resourcing and operating could be scrutinised by Parliament, and its impact could thereby be maximised. I look forward to the Minister’s response on new clauses 1, 4 and 5.

Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Conservative, Enfield, Southgate

I want to comment on two aspects of the new clauses. First, I commend Detective Sergeant Claire Hutcheon, who has led the Metropolitan police’s art and antiques unit so admirably, and who is retiring in January. She has done admirable work and gained from experience over many years. Although the unit is small in number, it certainly has the quality. She has spread her expertise around forces across the country, pulled in support and expertise, and shared good practice so that forces do what they can on illegal trade. She has also built up a good partnership with the trade, and there is good understanding and confidence there that needs to be continued. There is some concern that the new office holder may have to start again at zero. There needs to be proper good practice, which might perhaps benefit from the guidance that we might hear about in relation to this Bill. It would be good to hear from the Minister that there is continued support for that unit and for the resources; it has not been up to full strength for some time—I think it is pretty much up to a full strength of about three—but it certainly punches above its weight.

I also want to draw attention to the excellent cultural protection fund, which is in its early stages and has £30 million. I know that the Minister is competitive, and recognises that if we are in competition with France on the ratification of the protocols, we need to get there first, but there is also an issue of money, because François Hollande has announced $100 million as part of the global endeavour to protect cultural heritage. I ask the Minister whether there is support for the global endeavours. The second protocol provides for a voluntary fund for cultural heritage; I understand that that is distinct from our cultural protection fund. Nevertheless, there is an indication, and I hope an intention, that there will be a contribution to UNESCO. It takes its hits and criticisms but, particularly in this regard, we must recognise UNESCO’s pre-eminence and the support for it. I hope that there will be a mechanism that allows for support, particularly from ill-gotten gains, through the recycling of money into the fund. When these crimes are prosecuted, the proceeds could go into a global pot.

I know that the Minister gets around; she goes to global sporting events to fly the British flag. There is a conference in Abu Dhabi on 2 and 3 December looking at the cultural threats in the region, and it would be useful to ensure that we were well represented by a Minister. She will be able to go there and not feel embarrassed that we have not ratified the second protocol of The Hague convention, because we have introduced the Bill and taken our rightful place in a lead role.

Going back to France and our competitive nature, it is worth noting that France has announced that the Louvre is being put forward as a shelter for world treasures recovered from war zones—the shadow Minister spoke about where those homes could be. There has been talk, not least within the all-party parliamentary group for the protection of cultural heritage, about whether London, given its pre-eminence in this regard, could also be a good place to provide a respectful and appropriate home for lost treasures. It will be interesting to see how the Government could support that mechanism. There may be a digital way of doing it, too. We could work with organisations such as the Wellcome Trust, which is looking at providing such an approach.

Photo of Tracey Crouch Tracey Crouch The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 3:45, 15 November 2016

Before I turn to the specific aspects of the new clauses, it might be helpful if I addressed a number of wider issues raised by the hon. Member for Cardiff West. He asked a specific question about the Ministry of Defence; I am sure that he and members of the Committee will respect that the matter is obviously one for the Ministry of Defence, but I will do my best to answer as much as I possibly can on the specifics of the unit to which he referred.

The joint military cultural property protection working group was established in early 2014 to develop the concept of a unit of cultural property protection specialists, in accordance with our obligations under article 7.2 of the convention. The MOD is currently tasking Army command with looking at plans for the creation of the cultural protection unit. Some preliminary work has already been completed, and it is expected that the unit will be able to form up 12 to 18 months after formal approval.

The convention for the protection of cultural property places a number of commitments on the MOD, most of which we already comply with. Article 7.2, however, obliges states to plan or establish specialist cultural property units to secure respect for cultural property and to co-operate with the civilian authorities responsible for safeguarding it. There is flexibility on the size and composition of such units, and other nations’ solutions vary from six to 360 people.

The MOD has tasked the Army with examining the best means of providing this capability, and the Army’s initial thoughts suggest a relatively small unit, at least in peacetime, of 10 to 20 personnel from across all three services. They will be predominantly or even exclusively reservists, with command at lieutenant-colonel level, although expertise will be more important than rank. Although planning is at an early stage, the Army is expected to respond to the Ministry of Defence in the next few months on how such a unit could be established. My hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate, recently asked the Secretary of State for Defence at Question Time to update the House on that matter, and I am sure that interested Members will continue to press the Ministry of Defence.

The three new clauses proposed by the hon. Member for Cardiff West deal with important matters in which I know members of the Committee have a keen interest. Alas, I cannot support their inclusion in the Bill. New clause 1 deals with the cost of implementing and enforcing the provisions in the Bill. We have already clearly set out our forecast of the costs in the impact assessment. Where there are ongoing costs, for example for the Border Force, the police and the armed forces, it is likely to be extremely difficult to disaggregate the costs associated specifically with the Bill from those incurred in other related cultural protection work.

For law enforcement agencies, it would be extremely difficult—if not impossible—to separate the cost of enforcement related to cultural property from ordinary enforcement costs. Even if it is possible to do so, the costs involved are likely to be disproportionate to the costs that the new clause requires us to identify and report. It is for the Border Force, the Metropolitan police and other police authorities to decide how best to allocate and use their resources, in the light of the priorities and the legislation that they are required to implement and enforce.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage)

When the Minister referred to the impact assessment, I took a glance at it and noted that, under the section outlining the Metropolitan police arts and antiquities unit—

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage)

It says “antiquities” in the Government’s own impact assessment, I am afraid.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage)

The hon. Lady cannot intervene on me because I am intervening on the Minister. The number of personnel to be trained from that unit is four. We heard earlier that there were only three people in that unit, so I hope that is a helpful sign that the Government anticipate that the unit will expand.

Photo of Tracey Crouch Tracey Crouch The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

May I put an audible “tut” on the record at our mistake in the impact assessment? I know that people have concerns about the size of the Metropolitan police art and antiques unit, but the nature of its work—for example, it works collaboratively, including with international partners—means that its size is not a real reflection of its impact. A significant proportion of its work is from international law enforcement agency requests for assistance. I hope that responds in part to the hon. Gentleman’s question about the size of the unit.

With regard to the Border Force and the expertise required in identifying cultural property unlawfully exported from occupied territories, we do not foresee the Border Force playing a major role in discovering such objects unless specific intelligence has been received that objects from an occupied territory may be coming into the country. We think that it will be a rare event for a Border Force officer to be faced with something that they can clearly identify as having been illegally exported.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage)

I have a point relating to prosecution that the Committee will be interested in: I understand from the impact assessment that it is envisaged that there will be only one prosecution every 30 years under the Bill. Will the Minister confirm that my interpretation is correct?

Photo of Tracey Crouch Tracey Crouch The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I am sure that if it says that in the impact assessment, that is indeed the correct interpretation, but I am happy to provide further information on that on Report if that helps.

I will go back to the points on policing that the hon. Gentleman raised with regard to new clause 1. He will, of course, be aware that we have created elected police and crime commissioners to give strategic direction and to hold police forces to account for operational policing decisions, including how resources are directed between different units and functions. In London, the Mayor of London has that responsibility. We do not think it is necessary or desirable for the Government to cut across that democratic approach to accountability in policing by requiring the Secretary of State to take a specific interest in the funding of individual police units or functions. Moreover, it does not seem to me to be particularly helpful to isolate the implementation and enforcement of the Bill from the excellent wider work being done by so many bodies to protect cultural property.

That also applies to the provision in subsection (3) of the new clause, relating to communication and co-operation between public bodies. As with the costs, I do not think it is helpful to treat that separately from the regular contacts between public bodies on wider cultural protection work. Public bodies are required to report on their work costs and spending, and hon. Members are always extremely assiduous in holding them to account for their use of public money and the way in which they implement and enforce legislation. I am sure that the Bill will be no exception. A separate statutory obligation on the Government to report to Parliament on the costs associated with the Bill therefore seem unnecessary, which is why we oppose new clause 1.

New clause 4 deals with matters of an administrative nature that are not specifically covered by the Bill. We are already considering the administrative measures that will be needed to implement the convention and its protocols once the Bill is passed into law. We will reflect on issues raised during the passage of the Bill as part of that process. The hon. Gentleman mentioned specific items. We do not think it is appropriate to confirm whether a specific cultural object will be afforded protection.

We want to ensure that the views of stakeholders are heard. Next month we are holding a round table discussion with key stakeholders to discuss the categories of cultural property that will be afforded general protection under the convention, and what additional safeguarding measures might be required. The hon. Gentleman might be interested to know that our provisional thinking is that general protection status would extend to buildings, historical gardens or parks of grade I or category A status; cultural world heritage sites; and nationally important collections in museums, galleries and universities, as well as in the national record offices and our five legal deposit libraries. However, we are still determining our categories, and discussions with key stakeholders are ongoing.

Photo of Victoria Borwick Victoria Borwick Conservative, Kensington

Will the Minister consider inviting members of the trade and those who deal in cultural objects to participate in the consultation, to ensure that we have effective legislation?

Photo of Tracey Crouch Tracey Crouch The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I will certainly take that away, discuss it with officials and report back to my hon. Friend.

In practice, a range of safeguarding measures will already be in place for most cultural property under general protection in the UK. Existing listing, designation and accreditation schemes generally require certain measures to be in place to protect cultural property from, for example, fire, flood and other emergencies and natural disasters. Article 5 of the second protocol expands on the meaning of “safeguarding cultural property” by giving some examples of the kind of preparatory measures that should be taken in peacetime. Those include the preparation of inventories, the planning of emergency measures for protection against fire or structural collapse, the preparation for the removal of movable cultural property or the provision for adequate in situ protection of such property, and the designation of competent authorities responsible for the safeguarding of cultural property. The first three measures all represent common-sense precautions and are likely to be covered by existing contingency planning for an emergency or natural disaster.

Once we have decided which cultural property will receive general protection, we will be in a position to decide which are the most appropriate competent authorities for safeguarding that cultural property in the event of armed conflict. Our current thinking is that the most appropriate body to undertake the peacetime safeguarding measures is the existing owner, guardian or trustees of a cultural property.

It is also important to note that article 26 of the convention requires state parties to report at least every four years to the director general of UNESCO on their implementation of the convention. In practice, UNESCO asks state parties to provide information on the measures they have undertaken in relation to relevant peacetime safeguarding provisions as part of the periodic reporting, and those reports are published on the UNESCO website. The UK Government will therefore already be reporting on the safeguarding of cultural property as a matter of good practice, in line with the reporting obligation in article 26. A separate statutory obligation to report to Parliament on matters that are administrative and not part of the Bill appears to be unnecessary.

On new clause 5, I know that many hon. Members are interested in the cultural protection fund and wish to be kept informed about it. However, the cultural protection fund is not part of the Bill, and the new clause therefore introduces a new subject that is beyond the scope of the Bill. It is also unnecessary. The British Council, which is responsible for administering the cultural protection fund, will publish an annual report on the work of the fund. That report will be publicly available. If the fund supports projects with direct relevance to the Bill and to the convention and its protocols, we will work with the British Council to ensure that the annual report includes appropriate mention of them. Our priority is to work with the British Council on the first round of bids, but we cannot make future funding commitments at this stage. I hope the hon. Member for Cardiff West is reassured that information about the cultural protection fund will be made available.

With regard to a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate, parties to the second protocol are not obliged to contribute to the fund for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict, but once the UK has ratified the convention and its protocols, we will begin to consider our role as an active state party. It would not be appropriate—certainly not on the face of the Bill—for the Government to commit to any funding prior to becoming a party to the convention or its protocols. However, I assure him, not just as a consequence of my own competitiveness but because it is morally right to do so, that we will continue to play, or wish to continue to play, a leading role in the the world on this issue. Those are the reasons why I oppose new clauses 1, 3 and 5, but I hope the hon. Member for Cardiff West is reassured by my comments.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage) 4:00, 15 November 2016

It is new clauses 1, 4 and 5. The Minister did have to shuffle through a number of papers so it is understandable that the numbers became confused. We are discussing new clauses 1, 4 and 5.

I thank the Minister for a very thorough response to the new clauses. I take issue with one thing she said—that our new clause 5 is beyond the scope of the Bill. Had it been beyond the scope of the Bill, Mr Turner, you would have ruled it out of order and the Committee would not have been able to discuss it. Because it was completely in order and within scope when we tabled it, we have been able to debate it at considerable length and had the benefit of the Minister’s very thorough and helpful response to new clause 4, notwithstanding her view that it was beyond scope. She did give a very thorough response and I am grateful to her for that. It has been very useful to get all of that on the record and it gives clarity on a number of points.

The impact assessment does indeed make interesting reading, not least the point about the Government’s assumption that a prosecution under the Bill will take place only once in every 30 years. The Minister did say that she might take the opportunity to respond on and confirm that point on Report. If such an opportunity does not arise, I am sure that a letter to members of the Committee to clarify the point would suffice. On that basis, I will not press the new clauses and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 2