HC Deb 14 July 1959 vol 609 cc186-7
9. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the Minister of Works what steps he is taking to improve and expand the Ancient Monuments Laboratory; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Molson

The main function of this Laboratory is the cleaning and treatment of finds from archaeological excavations undertaken by my Department. Steps have recently been taken to provide the Laboratory with better and larger accommodation and some additional equipment. An additional temporary appointment has been made whilst the permanent staffing of the Laboratory is under review.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Can the Minister say when he thinks this review will be finished? Is he satisfied that the paragraphs in the Report of the Ancient Monument Board for England dealing with this matter were accurate? If so, will he take energetic steps to see that the Laboratory is not of such a meagre kind that it holds up other important work?

Mr. Molson

I entirely admit that the Laboratory so far has been inadequate for the work required. There are considerable arrears to be overtaken, and it is for that reason that we are looking at the staffing. We have already increased accommodation from 875 square feet to 1,475 square feet and, if it is necessary to add to the staff, we shall be prepared to do so.