HC Deb 14 July 1959 vol 609 cc185-6
8. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the Minister of Works how many explanatory notice boards, as recommended by the Ancient Monuments Board, he has erected at sites of scheduled ancient monuments; what is the cost of each board; what is the total expenditure so far; and what he will do to speed up the erection of these boards.

Mr. Molson

I have no statutory powers or responsibilities to mark scheduled monuments which are not in my care. At the request of owners of scheduled monuments, I have for many years been willing to provide notices giving warning of the legal penalties for damage, and some 200 of these have been erected.

I assume that the hon. Member has in mind particularly the recommendation by the Ancient Monuments Board that all scheduled monuments should be marked. For this I should need in each case the owner's consent, which might not be forthcoming. It costs about £10 to make and erect a suitable notice. There are already some 7,000 scheduled monuments in England, and at least as many remain to be scheduled. The cost in money and manpower makes it impossible for me to attempt to mark all scheduled monuments.

I have, however, recently agreed to mark a limited number of important monuments which appear to be in special danger of damage. Two notices have been erected and five more are ready for erection, at a cost so far of some £30. I am also prepared to consider providing notices in any further cases of this sort which are brought to my notice.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is the Minister aware that the figures he has given are very meagre? Is it really a fact that he is meeting serious opposition from owners of scheduled monuments? Is it not the case that many of those owners are proud of their ownership of the monuments and anxious that members of the general public should understand them and realise their value?

Mr. Molson

I would point out to the hon. Member that many of these monuments are barrows in agricultural areas, and that I cannot provide the manpower and the money required for marking all the scheduled monuments.