HC Deb 22 July 1953 vol 518 cc517-9

(1) Subsection (1) of section nine of the Ancient Monuments Act, 1931 (which confers a power of entry on land believed to contain an ancient monument) shall have effect in relation to land which contains a designated monument as it has effect in relation to the land first mentioned in that subsection.

(2) In this section the expression "designated monument" means a monument which is included in a list published under section twelve of the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act, 1913, or which is the subject of a preservation order or an interim preservation notice.—[Mr. Molson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works (Mr. Hugh Molson)

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

This new Clause is in accordance with the undertaking that I gave to the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) during the Committee stage, when I said that if he would be good enough to withdraw his Amendment we would introduce a new Clause on Report. On examination we found that there was some doubt whether the Minister of Works has powers of entry conferred upon him, under Section 9 of the Ancient Monuments Act, 1931, for inspection after the original entry has been made. To remove any doubt upon this subject it appears desirable to have a new Clause. I should like to express our gratitude to the hon. Member for Islington, East for having drawn attention to this matter. I hope he will feel that this new Clause gives effect to the point which he raised when he moved his Amendment.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

Naturally I welcome the new Clause which the Minister has put down as a consequence of the debate which we had in Committee upstairs. The new Clause carries out the aim which I had in mind in putting down the Amendment that I moved. I am very glad, therefore, to think that the Minister's powers of inspection have been increased in this respect. I should only like to add that further reflection on the matter has led me to the conclusion that what is really wanted in order to secure the adequate preservation of these ancient monuments, and to avoid any repetition of what has happened recently in regard to the Man-ton Down long barrow, is not so much new legislative powers as a determined administrative effort on the part of the Minister of Works.

I hope that we can have an assurance, either from the Parliamentary Secretary or from the Minister himself, that with these new powers there will be a really determined effort in the future by the Department to work in the closest possible co-operation with the numerous county archaeological societies in the country. Many of them are extremely active and well-qualified bodies. I cannot help thinking that the work which we all have at heart, of preventing any damage to, or destruction of, these ancient monuments is much more likely to succeed if there is wholehearted co-operation between the Minister and the county archaeological societies, which are most anxious to co-operate in that respect.

Sir D. Eccles

I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he wants. We intend to have conversations with the appropriate bodies which are interested in ancient monuments, and I agree that a great deal can be done by administration. Of course, it costs money, and I am anxious not to eat into my ancient monuments Vote too much simply for policing purposes, but I think that without a great expenditure of money we can make a substantial improvement.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.