HC Deb 24 May 2004 vol 421 c1297
8. Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury) (Con)

What matters were discussed when the Minister for Media and Heritage met the head of UNESCO at Stonehenge on 17 May. [174898]

The Minister for the Arts (Estelle Morris)

Mr. Matsuura, director general of UNESCO, requested to see Stonehenge during his informal visit to the United Kingdom last week. He had a tour of the Stonehenge world heritage site with officials of English Heritage and the National Trust. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Media and Heritage, as the Minister responsible for world heritage sites, joined him to visit the stone circle itself.

Mr. Key

I am grateful for that information. All DCMS Ministers, whichever House they come from, are always welcome in my constituency, as is the director general of UNESCO. Can the Minister give an unequivocal commitment that, subject to planning conditions, the developments of the road in the world heritage site and the new visitors centre at Stonehenge are firmly in the Government's programme, that there will be no backsliding and no instructions from the Treasury, and that both will be completed?

Estelle Morris

I understand the hon. Gentleman's eagerness to ensure that firm commitments are made on this subject. Indeed, my officials tell me that we have got further with the current set of proposals than ever before. It is good news that the inspector's report was delivered a week ahead of schedule, which shows that in terms of time, we are still on target. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the developments are firmly in our spending plans for 2008, assuming that all planning applications and consents go accordingly.

Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD)

I welcome the work that the Government are doing with UNESCO to support cultural heritage at Stonehenge and elsewhere, but when the Minister for Media and Heritage met people from UNESCO, did he take the opportunity to discuss ways in which we could do more, through UNESCO, to support cultural reconstruction in war-torn countries such as Iraq? Does the Minister therefore think that it would be vital to persuade the American Government to do what we have done recently—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. That has nothing to do with Stonehenge.

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