It is the not the Opposition who are bringing the proposals forward. It is the Government who should be held to account; it is down to the Government to bring forward a debate.
The Minister faces a challenge of openness and accountability, as well as one of style. He has got slightly worked up today, but he is generally an amiable guy, which I know because I have seen him on other occasions. His style occasionally resembles that of Derren Brown—now you see it, now you don’t—but what we need from the Minister and his team is more precision, more grit and more detail. English Heritage staff, its supporters and the general public need all that to have confidence in the Minister’s proposals, which may be the best solution. This year marks the centenary of the start of world war one, and I do not want the Minister or English Heritage to end up in the situation described in Siegfried Sassoon’s famous poem “The General”:
“‘He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack…
But he did for them both by his plan of attack.”