Future of English Heritage

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:56 pm on 2nd April 2014.

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Photo of Gordon Marsden Gordon Marsden Shadow Minister (Transport) 2:56 pm, 2nd April 2014

No, I did not. The Hansard record will bear out that I said that these were the fears and concerns of a friend—[Interruption.] Will the Minister allow me to finish? He has had his say. He must come back with reasoned arguments as to why those concerns will not be realised. I accept that £80 million is a lot of money, but we are talking about a settlement that should endure not for seven or eight years but for 20, 30 or 40 years, or whatever is a reasonable period of time. It is not unreasonable for outside bodies to raise the issue of whether the settlement is is appropriate.

For good or ill, this is the biggest single shake-up in the heritage landscape for 30 years, yet the plan remains veiled. Access to the business plan is restricted. If it is not, the Minister can tell us today when he will make it available to the House. I want to make it clear, before he tries to misrepresent me further, that I am not opposed to the principle of the division, but the devil is in the detail, as he knows. It is the duty of the House and of Members present to ask specific questions about the devil and the detail. The Opposition spokeswoman, my hon. Friend Helen Goodman, and the Minister obviously have restrictions on the time available for them to respond, but I challenge the Minister, given the huge change, to hold proper full-length debates in this House and the other House, in Government time, about the Government’s proposals.