HL Deb 19 March 1953 vol 181 cc236-7

LORD METHUEN asked Her Majesty's Government if steps can be taken to schedule (or make a Preservation Order) and to maintain the important Tudor building known as Beaupre Hall (Norfolk) which is empty and in a ruinous condition.

THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF MUNSTER): The Minister of Works has certain powers under the Ancient Monuments Act, 1913 and 1931. Briefly he can safeguard an ancient monument by including it in the List of monuments prepared under the Acts. In this event the owner is required to give the Minister of Works three months' notice before carrying out works affecting the monument. Where a monument is in danger of demolition and its preservation is considered of national importance, it may be safeguarded by a Preservation Order made by the Minister under the Acts. When a Preservation Order is in force, work can be done to the monument only with the written con sent of the Minister.

Beaupre Hall was included in the List of Ancient Monuments in 1947 and therefore the owner is required to give notice of any intention to carry out works affecting the monument. No Notice has been received of intention to demolish Beaupre Hall, so that the question of making a Preservation Order under the Ancient Monuments Acts has not arisen. In 1949, Beaupre Hall was offered to the National Trust, who asked the Minister of Works whether he would become guardian of the monument under the Ancient Monuments Acts, if they accepted it. In cases where the Minister accepts guardianship of a monument he becomes responsible for maintenance. The funds available for ancient monuments are strictly limited. In 1949 the estimated cost of initial work necessary at Beaupre Hall was £25,000 and after careful consideration, the Minister refused the National Trust's offer. If a Preservation Order were made, the Minister of Works would be empowered to take compulsory guardianship on the ground that the monument was being neglected; but in view of the cost of repairing and main taining it, which would be considerably higher than in 1949, I can hold out no hope that money could be spared for this purpose.