HC Deb 20 December 1960 vol 632 cc1041-3
8. Mr. Fletcher

asked the Minister of Works what steps he is taking to give effect to the recommendations contained in the fifth Report of the Select Committee on Estimates of last Session for giving greater publicity to, and improving the amenities available to the public at, ancient monument sites.

Lord John Hope

For some time, my Department has been paying special attention to the presentation of ancient monuments in my care, including publicity for the monuments and the improvement of amenities for visitors. An Ancient Monuments Presentation Committee now meets regularly under the Chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, to determine how best to give effect to this policy. This Committee is studying the recommendations of the Select Committee on Estimates on these subjects, and will advise me how to give effect to them.

Mr. Fletcher

I welcome that Answer. May we take it that some action will be taken before next summer so that, as the Select Committee recommended, the public can get greater benefit from these ancient monuments and the Treasury more revenue?

Lord John Hope

Yes, Sir. I am sure that the hon. Member may take it as certain that during next summer we shall see the fruits of what we have been trying to do and what has been recommended. Indeed, there was evidence to this effect last summer, largely due to the efforts of my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Sir H. Nicholls) when he was Parliamentary Secretary. There is now a chance for the public, and for hon. Members, to obtain 7s. 6d. season tickets which are being offered complete with Christmas cards. I hope that the hon. Member has taken advantage of this; if not, I hope that he will, even though it be only in time for the New Year.

9. Mr. Fletcher

asked the Minister of Works whether he has considered the Fifth Report from the Select Committee on Estimates of last Session relating to the working out of a common programme by him and the Minister of Housing and Local Government for systematic survey of the nation's inheritance of buildings of historic, architectural and archaeological interest; and what steps he is taking in the matter.

Lord John Hope

I am considering this recommendation in consultation with my right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Housing and Local Government.

Mr. Fletcher

Does not the Minister agree that it is rather absurd that there should be this overlapping between his Department, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Royal Commission? Does not he agree, as the Select Committee recommended, that these kindred processes of listing, scheduling and recording ought to be undertaken as one service, otherwise work is being duplicated in one area while other areas are completely neglected?

Lord John Hope

I have no doubt that there is a great deal in what the hon. Member says. We are looking at this matter.

Sir G. Nicholson

In the light of an earlier Question, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend is satisfied not only that the descriptions of ancient monuments ranging from earthworks to ancient castles are scheduled but that a continuous watch is kept on them? For example, on the question of the destruction of earth-works, are the owners reminded at regular intervals that they have this responsibility to the nation?

Lord John Hope

I will look into the point raised by my hon. Friend about the regularity of the reminders.

Mr. H. Wilson

As a former Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry who took a great interest in these problems, may I ask whether the Minister does not feel, despite the dedicated service given to this kind of problem by the officials of the Ministry of Works, that all of us who have studied this matter owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Select Committee on Estimates, and particularly to my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) who presided over the inquiry and put the whole thing on a much more imaginative plane than has been done by the Ministry?

Lord John Hope

I am sorry about the "sting" in the tail of that supplementary question. There is a good deal in the first part with which I would agree.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

On a paint of order, Mr. Speaker. Arising out of this Answer, and in order to give the House a chance to discuss the matter, I wish to give notice that after the Christmas Recess I shall try to raise the whole of this issue on the Adjournment.

Mr. Speaker

I think that such notice has to relate to a specific Answer to a Question, otherwise we shall run into trouble.

Mr. Noel-Baker

May I then give notice arising out of the Answer to my Question, No. 4?