Future of English Heritage

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:41 pm on 2nd April 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) 3:41 pm, 2nd April 2014

I would really rather not.

The consultation brought forth a series of critical comments. Heritage Alliance, which has 6.3 million members, said that

“the direction of travel is ominous…Worst case scenarios must be addressed and contingency plans drawn up.”

The Society of Antiquaries of London seriously doubts

“that the envisaged charity could become self-funding, while maintaining standards of curatorial care and property maintenance”.

Doubts have been raised about the capacity of the remaining body, Historic England, in the words of the National Trust, to retain the expertise and capacity

“to protect our historic fabric”.

The Historic Houses Association said it

“would be extremely concerned if” the expert advisory service

“were to be reduced or diluted in any way.”

I share those worries. I am tempted to say that that is the greatest risk. An underfunded Historic England would not be able to provide the protection needed. The 420 sites are 0.05% of the scheduled ancient monuments, listed buildings and so forth. The other 99.95% will fall to Historic England in the Minister’s model. What will happen to them?

Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.

On resuming