HC Deb 05 November 1979 vol 973 cc26-7
26. Mr. Adley

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has, in pursuance of his policy to assist and encourage industrial archaeology, to promote the preservation of steam locomotives as part of the industrial heritage.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The Science Museum and the National Railway Museum in York are responsible for the national collection of railway relics. The Science Museum also operates a fund to assist with the preservation elsewhere of technological and scientific material—including steam locomotives—which is considered to be of historic significance.

Mr. Adley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that at Woodham's scrapyard in Barry, South Wales, there exists the only remaining source of former British Rail steam engines, and that sadly they will probably have to be cut up next year? That will deprive preservationists of a unique collection. Will my right hon. Friend establish contact with Mr. Woodham and his people in Barry regarding the existence of what may be regarded as an important part of our national heritage?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am fully aware of the situation at Barry, not least because my hon. Friend keeps writing to me about it. However, it is a matter for the Science Museum, and I am in communication with the museum to see what can be done.

Mr. Dalyell

Will the right hon. Gentleman recollect that there were exchanges on that subject before the Summer Recess? May I bluntly ask him if there is any money available to the Science Museum from Government sources for what many people agree is a serious purpose?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

There are funds available, and they are met through a fund that stands at £130,000 in the current financial year. In certain circumstances there are grants available through the area museum councils, which are currently receiving Government funding to the extent of £1,266,000. The difficulty is that as there are so many worthy claimants the resources are insufficient.

Sir Raymond Gower

Does my right hon. Friend agree that had it not been for the initiative of my constituent, Mr. Woodham, some of these wonderful old engines would probably have been destroyed a long time ago? Should we not look closely at a system which permits that sort of thing to happen unless some individual takes action?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am very much in sympathy with what my hon. Friend said, and I join with him in congratulating his constituent for his action. However, we have to face the facts of the situation. We have only limited resources.