HC Deb 25 January 1993 vol 217 cc699-700
8. Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will list the representations he has received to the English Heritage strategy document, "Strategy for the 90s"; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Brooke

I have received some 250 representations about English Heritage's new forward strategy since its proposals were announced last October.

Mr. Hughes

I thank the Secretary of State for his answer. I do not know whether that figure includes responses to the proposals for London. I should be grateful if, either now or later, the Secretary of State could let me know. Does he accept that the proposals have elicited a huge amount of distrust and a considerable amount of opposition? Does he agree with the proposal by the committee for the future of London's architectural heritage in its response that, in order that it should not be seen to be a carve up between English Heritage and the Government, there should be, to use the committee's words, a "full-scale and independent inquiry" into the future of England's heritage and that that is the best way to manage it rather than to leave everything to be decided by a quango?

Mr. Brooke

It is my present firm understanding that the letters received in connection with the London region have been included in the answer that I have given. As the hon. Gentleman will know, the consultation process has come to a conclusion in terms of its timetable, though I am sure that other comments would still be received. In collaboration with English Heritage, I shall look closely at the outcome of the consultation.

Mr. Adley

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the strategy for the 1990s will include any proposals to ensure that national artefacts no longer required by their owners, if those owners are in the public sector, remain available to British museums? Is my hon. Friend aware that one of his predecessors kindly invited me some years ago to sit on the committee of the National Railway museum. The assurances that the museum was given in the Railways Bill appear not about to be honoured. Will my right hon. Friend please ensure that his Department keeps an eye on that aspect of the national heritage?

Mr. Brooke

I am not sure that I can do a precise read-across to the question that my hon. Friend raised, but I shall look closely at it to see whether there is an immediate application in our own case.

Mr. Skinner

Why should areas in the provinces—for example places in Derbyshire, which includes the Bolsover constituency, such as Hardwick hall, Bolsover castle and a few more, including Creswell crags—suffer from the lack of Government money when the Government could save up to £60 million by telling the Queen to pay for the Windsor castle fire out of her own money? They would then have a bit more to spend on other areas in the provinces. Why does the Secretary of State not do that?

Mr. Brooke

The hon. Gentleman has missed the point of the strategy. Its purpose, in the context of a number of the monuments for which English Heritage is responsible, is that management might more sensibly be at local level. I am glad to be able to report to the House that more than 50 bodies have been in touch with English Heritage to discuss the possibility of taking over responsibility for its management.