National Heritage Bill [Lords]

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Clause 6

Assistance in relation to protected wrecks

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Andrew George: I simply want to emphasise the importance of the clause with regard to the defraying of costs, and in particular the costs of those who are involved in surveying sites and, where it is appropriate and agreed, in recovering articles from those sites, after a proper survey and the proper licences have been granted.

With regard to that, I wish to offer an example from the part of the country that I represent, because I assume that, for the purposes of the Bill, the expression ''adjacent to England'' includes Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. There are attempts to recover artefacts from maritime sites on the Isles of Scilly, and to display them at Valhalla, the national maritime museum's ships' figurehead museum on Tresco, in the Isles of Scilly. A company on Bryher is attempting to add to that collection at present. However, with regard to recovering and displaying such artefacts, the additional costs of some of the regulations and conditions—welcome and understandable though they are—are considerable, and, where it is appropriate, the commission should assist in defraying them. I am sure that that would help with regard to the recovery of such artefacts, and it would also help to ensure that the public are able to see them.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Column Number: 014

Clause 7

New functions to support other heritage organisations

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

11.15 am

Sir Sydney Chapman: I should explain that clause 7 introduces new measures whereby English Heritage may delegate its functions to another person if it has the finance to do work that is within its remit, but it does not have the personnel or time to do the work itself. That is a practical solution to a problem that may arise.

On Second Reading, the hon. Member for Stourbridge (Ms Shipley), who gives her apologies for not being present because of a clash with another Committee, asked about the rights of intellectual property. I begin to struggle when I hear the phrase intellectual property. However, I have made enquiries and if English Heritage handed work to an external person or organisation, a contract would be negotiated. Part of the negotiation would include matters relating to intellectual property.

I am extremely grateful that the Minister always speaks after me because his immense expertise can put right my limited capabilities.

Dr. Howells: I could bore for Britain on intellectual property because that is what I did at the Department of Trade and Industry.

Tim Loughton: Bore for Britain.

Dr. Howells: That is absolutely true—you, Mr. Hancock, should have tried serving on the Committee that considered the Office of Communications Bill.

We do not intend to give English Heritage the power to exploit privately owned rights—that is the important point. If we had intended to enable it to exploit other people's intellectual property rights, the wording of the provision would have to have been more explicit. The hon. Member for Chipping Barnet is right about that.

The Bill cannot be interpreted in such a way because a requirement in section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998 states that legislation should be interpreted in a way that is compatible with the European convention on human rights. The intellectual property provisions in the Bill enable English Heritage to exploit any intellectual property rights that it owns. If an individual or organisation undertakes work for English Heritage, English Heritage will be able to exploit the intellectual property rights in that work only if it owns them or has a licence to use them. Whether it owns such intellectual property rights will depend on the contract between it and the individual who undertakes the work.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Column Number: 015

Clause 8

Short title, commencement and extent

Sir Sydney Chapman: I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 6, line 24, leave out subsection (6).

I am reliably informed that moving such an amendment is a usual procedure. When a Bill starts its journey in the House of Lords, their lordships are required to insert the subsection that the amendment would remove because—I put this diplomatically—their powers in relation to financial matters have been curtailed since 1910.

Miss McIntosh: The Minister was doing very well until he mentioned the Office of Communications Bill. I feel very nostalgic about that Bill, and I can speak at length on the topic. [Interruption.] By popular request, I shall refrain from that tactic.

I want to pose a question to the Minister about the amendment. I understand that costs will not be borne by the taxpayer. I should love to share a four-page note on the regulatory impact assessment of the Bill with the Committee, but I fear that time will prevent me from exploring that interesting briefing. Obviously, the Committee is in favour of giving grant aid to English Heritage. However, I am confused. With regard to clause 7, which we have accepted, a situation may arise whereby a separate body carries out contract work for English Heritage if the personnel or finance are not available. That begs the question of why grant aid should be given to English Heritage if another body does the work.

The Chairman: The hon. Lady is straying slightly from the point.

Miss McIntosh: I gather that the Bill applies only to England and Wales. In the event of a dispute on the intellectual property rights, which court will be applicable?

Dr. Howells: I did try to explain the position with regard to disputes over intellectual property rights. There are clear channels for dealing with such disputes involving the World Trade Organisation and the European courts—it is important that the hon. Lady knows that, because she worked in Brussels. Rulings

Column Number: 016

are always subject to review by courts in the United Kingdom. There is no shortage of avenues for appeal should anyone feel that their intellectual property rights have been stolen or infringed. Considering English Heritage's great experience and the responsible attitude that it has always taken to intellectual property rights, it is highly unlikely that such a thing would happen.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 8, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Question proposed, That the Chairman do the report the Bill, as amended, to the House.

Sir Sydney Chapman: Before you formally close proceedings, Mr. Hancock, I wish to thank you for conducting our proceedings efficiently and quietly. I also thank the Minister for the additional information that he gave the Committee, and all members of the Committee for agreeing to serve on it. I hope that the Bill will show that Parliament is increasingly concerned with and recognises the importance of archaeology, whether underwater or on land.

As I am old enough to remember this, I should like to finish by telling hon. Members about the late Dame Agatha Christie, who married a distinguished archaeologist. She was invited to give the prizes at a ladies' school. Her advice to the pupils who were leaving was, ''You are going out into that wonderful world. You may decide to get married and want to be sure that you are marrying the right person. If in doubt, marry an archaeologist, because the older you get, the more interest they will take in you.'' I am searching for female archaeologists.

The Chairman: On behalf of the Committee, I thank the hon. Member for his stewardship of this legislation. Thank you all.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose at twenty-two minutes past Eleven o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Hancock, Mr. Mike (Chairman)
Chapman, Sir Sydney
Clark, Mrs. Helen
George, Andrew
Howells, Dr.
Linton, Martin
Loughton, Tim
McIntosh, Miss
McIsaac, Shona
Palmer, Dr.
Randall, Mr.
Simpson, Mr. Alan

 
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