HL Deb 26 March 1970 vol 308 cc1493-4

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps are being taken to preserve the Mayan remains and antiquities in British Honduras from depredation and robbery by persons acting on behalf of museums in the United States and Europe, as is occurring in Mexico and Guatemala.]


My Lords, this is a matter which is entirely within the competence of the Government of British Honduras. I understand that the Government of British Honduras have for some time been in close touch with both the Mexican and Guatemalan authorities with a view to concerting action to combat the robbery and depredation of Mayan antiquities. I have also been informed that it is the intention of the Government of British Honduras to introduce in the near future legislation to strengthen controls over dealings in Mayan antiquities.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for his reply. I presume that he saw the article in the Saturday Review of The Times on February 14, which shows the extent to which these depredations and smuggling have gone. While I quite realise that for all purposes of internal affairs British Honduras is self-governing, may I ask the noble Lord whether it would not be possible for Her Majesty's Government to help the Government of British Honduras with advice in regard to these matters, which involve smuggling by air- craft and by ship? I thought that possibly the Royal Navy could have played a part in these matters


My Lords, I share the noble Lord's concern, and that of many others, about what is happening to these antiquities. It is a matter for the British Honduras Government, but I can assure the noble Lord that if we were asked to assist, not only with advice but also in some form of action, we should be only too ready to consider that request.

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