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  • My Lords, I first declare my interests as set out in the register, in particular as a co-founder and director of the new retail bank, Metro Bank. I agree very much with what the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, had to say about the separation of high street and investment banking. It is accepted that the ring-fencing regime is a compromise to see how it goes but it seems to me, above all, that these huge institutions have become unmanageable. They are just too large to manage effectively. I also note that investors, many of them pension funds, are still investing in a mixture of the two businesses, so it really is not much help to them.

    The ring-fencing brings a lot of problems in terms of which services can or cannot be sold to retail clients. It is very complex but, to go only slightly in the other direction, one should not forget that it was essentially bad lending that led to the banking disasters. The noble Lord, Lord Lawson, made that point. There was bad lending of all sorts, including the buying of foolish CDO instruments. It was not particularly the derivatives or the investment banking side. It is important to remember that. I hope that a separation of the two sides of banking, should it come about in the future, may leave the banking sector to return to more reliable lending practices. That would go a long way to help address the issue of remuneration. In the past there was never any justification for huge remuneration. It was very much a carry-over from the investment banking world.

    I, too, pay tribute to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and to Andrew Tyrie’s excellent leadership. I support the new senior person responsibility regime, but with the proviso that we should continue to have the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty. Some of the proposals seem to point in the other direction.

    I want particularly to talk about competition. I used to think that competition was not so hugely important. The more that I focus on it, however, the more I consider it the one thing that could completely change banking in this country within as short a period as a decade. I will start by commenting on the Payments Council arrangements to enable seven-day current account switching, which come into operation this September, and on the debate about whether bank account number portability will be feasible in the foreseeable future. First, sort code account portability

    will not be feasible until banks have common sort code number systems. There is a lot of work to be done to standardise sort codes, which will be expensive. My second comment concerns a point that I raised at the time of the Financial Services Bill, to which there has been no reply. The anti-money laundering, or AML, “know your customer” requirement means that another two weeks or so is added to the time that it will take people to move their bank accounts. Banks will not accept a new customer’s account until they have satisfied themselves with an AML check. We all know that that goes on for ever; people have to see lawyers, get passports signed and goodness knows what. I would not mind if it was sensible—if there was a single body that did all AML “know your customer” analysis that was acceptable to all banks and which could be kept up to date. That would save a lot of duplication. With my Metro Bank hat on, we find that just by using a driving licence we can access all the data that we want and open an account within 10 minutes.

    On the point about the essence of competition, until the latter part of the 19th century we were like America, with many regional banks. When local banks went down they caused 10-year depressions in parts of the country, which led the great Walter Bagehot to argue that if banks were consolidated, that would spread the risk. Certainly, one could argue that, in the 1930s, a Midland bank that had a very rough time in the north-west was sustained, in part, because of its spread of business all over the country.

    Inevitably, things swing too far in the wrong direction. I would argue that in this country the amalgamation to reduce risk spread virtually to a cartelised banking system. When one of the large four banks decided to cut massively the services that it provided to customers, everyone else copied it. By and large, the big four have behaved in a similar way for a long time. When we have a cartel situation we tend to get problems and bad behaviour. Therefore, there is a sound case to be made for a significant revival of new banks in this country, which might take as much as half the total banking business—certainly the high street business—over the next 10 years or so.

    Yesterday Metro had its third birthday. We have opened 19 branches, we have a balance sheet of nearly £1.5 billion, and we have about 210,000 account holders. That has all been built from scratch. If we can do it, why cannot everyone else do it? It is not that difficult. I am pleased to say that Vernon Hill, the American backer, considers this to be a more welcoming country than America in which to grow a bank. Although we may have our complaints about regulation, the multitude of American regulation is more exhausting than it is here. He is a great advocate of doing banking business in this country.

    However, there are four areas in which we see scope to improve competitiveness. None of them is absolutely huge, but all are important. The first concerns the need to have a level playing field with regard to capital and liquidity requirements. The second concerns the payments system. The Minister commented on that in terms of the Government’s commitment. Thirdly, our antiquated high street planning rules tend to make it difficult for new banks to open up in good retail spots.

    The final point concerns the guidance to all government departments on doing business with new banks. As everyone knows, not so long ago the advice was to place money where one got the highest interest rate. Then came the Iceland banks crisis and the advice swung the other way: “You mustn’t go to any bank unless it’s got a credit rating”. We have all seen how useful credit ratings are.

    On the first point, it is unacceptable that small banks—not even just new banks—often have four to five times the capital ratio requirements for SME and mortgage lending as do large banks. Clearly, a set of common industry standards for both liquidity and capital requirements is needed. I accept that both requirements should be higher in the early years of a new bank. There are high risks in setting up a bank and it is appropriate that there should be protection. However, the regulator should know what is going on and after three or four years it should be able gradually to phase in the capital and liquidity requirements to be broadly the same for all sizes of bank. I am hopeful that the PRA will use the occasion of Basel III and the EU’s CRD IV proposals, which come in at the beginning of next year, to move in that direction. I cannot see why we are where we are today and why the PRA should not get more of a move on.

    On the payments system, new and smaller banks are dependent, as everyone knows, on large competitors to provide them with agency banking services, for which they invariably are significantly over-charged. It would be best to remove the payments system completely from banks’ internal mechanisms and to create an independently run licensed payments platform that would provide the service to all banks. The US clearing house inter-bank payments system is effectively that. It services several thousand banks within the United States quite satisfactorily. I cannot think why we might not think of copying the US in that direction.

    On planning, we have classes A1 and A2 planning designations where banks are treated as A2 and therefore do not qualify for A1 retail sites. If a bank wants to open an operation in a shopping mall in an area where there is a lot of retail custom, it is not allowed to have that site. If the bank thinks it worth the effort, it has to go through substantial expense and time-consuming activity in seeking to get a change of use from A1 to A2 before it can take on such a site. Needless to say, landlords do not like that much, given that there is a delay in the period in which they are likely to earn their rental. The costs of dealing with planning add about £100,000 per site. The sensible solution might be to amend class orders to reclassify banks that keep retail hours, have retail customers and provide retail services as being suitable for A1 and A2.

    Finally, on doing business with local authorities, it is clear that what is needed—whether it is guidance from DCLG or local authorities themselves—is to take a wider view of rating banks. Indeed, it is an insult to the PRA, which is supposed to ensure the creditworthiness, security and liquidity of all size of bank, to assume that credit agencies are better and that the smaller, newer bank is automatically less secure. Quite often it is, in fact, the other way round. The guidelines ought to be amended inviting government

    bodies to make their own judgments and potentially to place deposits on a more pro rata basis to the capital of different banks.

    There are two other issues I shall address briefly which are somewhat indirect. One is that the EFG small business loan guarantee scheme is working poorly in this country, particularly in comparison with the small company loan scheme in the United States. The banks do not like it as it is a nuisance and a hassle. However, in the United States, there is effectively full security cover because the lenders, including the Government as guarantor, take a charge over the entrepreneur’s residence whereas over here that is not permitted. In the United States, that makes such loans more easily on-sellable, so the banks can go on making more.

    Finally, as noble Lords will have noticed, UK banks in America have now been fined many billions for breaches of various regulations. I am very mindful that America has reduced its international indebtedness by about $1,000 billion as a result of the mis-selling of CDOs and that has been substantially paid for by our banking system. I wonder whether the Treasury has looked at whether the mis-selling of CDOs is a regulatory offence for which we might look at levying some compensating US fines.

    We have a lot of work to do on this Bill. It is very important, but my sit-down message is that I feel that all efforts need to be made to make this country have a much more competitive banking system.

    Profile picture for Lord FlightBy: Lord Howard Emerson Flight
    Party: Conservative
    Constituency:
    At: 24/07/2013 19:07:00
    Comment made during: Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill — Second Reading

  • On a slightly wider point, can my noble friend the Minister confirm that the £1.3 million of funding that is going directly to the British Museum to run the portable antiquities scheme will be ring-fenced?

    By: Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter
    Party: Liberal Democrat
    Constituency: Yarnbury
    At: 30/11/2010 14:52:00
    Comment made during: Wedgwood Museum — Question

  • My Lords, following the welcome Statement to this House from the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, that measures included in the Coroners and Justice Act to improve the treasure system will be implemented, and following the comparatively welcome news this week on funding for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, along with the commitment made by the Culture Minister to review the scope of the Treasure Act in 2011, may I encourage the Minister to continue in this positive vein where archaeology is concerned? What progress have Ministers made towards establishing a national coroner for treasure?

    Profile picture for Lord Howarth of NewportBy: Lord Alan Howarth
    Party: Labour
    Constituency: Newport
    At: 24/11/2010 15:23:00
    Comment made during: Coroners and Justice Act 2009 — Question

  • My Lords, my noble friend will be aware of the valuable work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme in recording important archaeological information about finds under the Treasure Act, such as with this helmet. Can she give the House any assurances about the future funding and management of the Portable Antiquities Scheme?

    Profile picture for Lord Allan of HallamBy: Lord Richard Beecroft Allan
    Party: Liberal Democrat
    Constituency: Hallam
    At: 11/11/2010 11:16:00
    Comment made during: Treasure Act 1996 — Question

  • My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, for tabling the amendments, to which I have added my name. I am also grateful to the Government for the progress that we have so far been able to make in strengthening the provisions of the Bill that relate to treasure: agreeing after all that there should be a coroner for treasure; allowing time beyond six months for prosecutions for non-reporting of treasure; and giving the coroner power to require finders actually to deliver treasure. I am grateful also to Ministers for meeting some of us not just once but twice.

    In Committee, the Government did not accept that the duty to report a find of treasure should be widened to anyone who comes into possession of it and has reason to believe that it has not previously been reported. This is an important matter, which is why we have tabled it again as Amendment 37. It was in the Government's own draft Bill in 2006.

    As I understand it, the Government's reservations are twofold. They have explained that they are worried about the impracticality of monitoring and enforcing such a duty. In Committee, we attempted to explain why we thought that those fears were misplaced. As to human rights, we should certainly ensure that the amendment does not offend the ECHR, but I believe that it does not. We had a searching discussion about this issue at our meeting and our reasons for thinking that it does not offend the ECHR were set out in greater detail in subsequent correspondence. I would now add only the observation that the Treasure Valuation Committee has flexibility in allocating reward money so that up to 100 per cent of it could in principle be provided to somebody who came into possession of treasure and reported it. These matters should be considered case by case, with no preconceptions. On that basis, I think that we can satisfy the human rights requirement.

    I shall not repeat what I said in Committee about the worrying indications of abuse that the British Museum's monitoring of the eBay website has brought to light, but I shall just highlight one finding of the British Museum survey. In 26 per cent of cases, the vendor stated that he had no knowledge of where the object was found, from which it is obvious that there are vendors who are buying items that may be treasure without performing due diligence. My noble friend acknowledged in Committee that there was an "undoubted problem". He suggested that education and persuasion were the way forward, but I have to say that there are people for whom education and persuasion simply will not work. Amendment 37 is therefore important in requiring best practice and ensuring that the trade is more transparent.

    The case of the Staffordshire hoard shows the intense public interest in archaeology. Let us suppose for a moment that the person who found the Staffordshire hoard, that metal detectorist, had not been scrupulous—he was indeed perfectly scrupulous and followed to the letter all the procedures set down under the Portable Antiquities Scheme—or let us suppose that the whereabouts of the site had been prematurely leaked, as all but happened with the BBC. We can imagine that people might have been feeding these important and precious objects through to dealers who were not going to ask any awkward questions in exchange for ready cash. The Treasure Act provides no protection against this. If either of those eventualities had occurred, there would have been enormous public outrage. I cannot believe that my noble friend the Minister wishes to leave important archaeological finds at risk in this way.

    With the law as it is, we can at best say that the duties on third parties—people who buy, inherit or are given antiquities—are unclear, but we know for sure that, with the vagueness and the weakness of the existing legislation, landowners are being defrauded and important objects are being lost to museums.

    How did it come about that important antiquities looted from the national museum in Afghanistan were dispatched to London? In 2004, customs officers intercepted hundreds of them, fortunately and to their great credit. I do not think that there can be any doubt that they were on their way to dealers in this country. London has the second biggest market in antiquities in the world, estimated to account for some 30 per cent of global turnover. The Government have a major responsibility in this field. The market in antiquities in this country needs policing, but if it is to be effectively policed there must be a watertight legal regime.

    I cite one piece of unacceptable practice in the London antiquities market. In 2006, Bonhams, the auctioneers, chose to display a number of artefacts from the Sevso hoard of Roman silver and invited many people to come and see them. These objects had entered the market without any proof of their legal origin, no direct evidence of the circumstances in which they had been excavated and no details disclosed about dealings in them in the period following their discovery. There was no secure history of their ownership and no proper provenance for them. Ethically, they should not have been in the market. It was incontrovertible that they had been illegally removed from their place of origin; no country would have authorised their excavation unsupervised, their export for commercial gain or their exposure to the market, as occurred. In its invitation, Bonhams asserted that these pieces of silver were,

    "suitable for exhibition in the world's greatest museums".

    To acquire or exhibit items from the Sevso treasure would have been to violate all the responsibilities that a museum properly has. Bonhams was cocking a snook at the British Government and all their efforts to suppress the illicit trade. How long are the Government prepared to tolerate this kind of behaviour?

    These instances and the statistics produced by the British Museum exposing cavalier attitudes, or worse, within the trade show the need for Amendment 37 and for a new offence of dealing in undocumented archaeological objects that would be created by Amendments 68 to 73. The Government have a responsibility to clean up this scene and it is urgent that they should do so. My noble friend may say to the House that we should await their review of the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act. However, that review was promised as long ago as 2006 and we still have not had it. Perhaps my noble friend will be able to tell us this afternoon when the fruits of that review will be made available. Meanwhile, this Bill and the amendments that we have proposed provide the ideal opportunity to deal with some of the starker needs.

    Finally, Amendments 52 and 53 to Clause 39, as the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, explained, would correct an omission in the Treasure Act. The Act requires finders of treasure to notify the coroner directly. In practice, 97 per cent of finders report their finds to one of the finds liaison officers employed under the Portable Antiquities Scheme. That was what took place in the case of the Staffordshire hoard and that practice is in accordance with the Treasure Act code of practice. The problem is that the Government's code of practice is inconsistent with the law. Amendments 52 and 53 would regularise current practice, which works well and is entirely acceptable in itself, empowering the coroner for treasure to designate suitable persons to receive reports of finds of treasure. In that way, finders would be assured that they had fulfilled their legal responsibilities. I emphasise to my noble friend that there is real concern among the archaeological community and the metal detectorists about this anomaly in the law.

    The requirement that the coroner for treasure should consult the British Museum in these amendments is consistent with the practice created by the Treasure Act, which appoints the British Museum in Section 9 to specific responsibilities. If my noble friend says that new regulations under the existing Treasure Act would solve the problem, I must respectfully disagree. The problem resides in the drafting of the Treasure Act itself; it is the primary legislation that needs to be amended.

    If these amendments were passed, they would not bind the Government to maintain all the existing arrangements of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, although I hope that the scheme's success has been so well proved by now that neither this nor any future Government would wish to unravel it. The amendments would also ensure that the coroner for treasure was not burdened with an excessive workload, which was an anxiety that Ministers expressed at earlier stages of this legislation. There are no public expenditure implications in these amendments. I hope that the Government will be able to accept them.

    If my noble friend finds that he is unable today to commit himself to accept all these amendments, because the Government have not completed their own internal discussions, I hope that he will tell the House that we will return to these matters at Third Reading.

    Profile picture for Lord Howarth of NewportBy: Lord Alan Howarth
    Party: Labour
    Constituency: Newport
    At: 26/10/2009 15:15:00
    Comment made during: Coroners and Justice Bill: Report (2nd Day)

  • I, too, welcome the government amendments in this group that give effect to the Minister's pledge at Second Reading to establish a national coroner for treasure. I also welcome the amendments that would give effect to the Government's decision to extend the period permitted for prosecutions under the Treasure Act, about which he spoke just now. However, despite what my noble friend said, I do not think that the Government's response is yet comprehensive. I am sorry that he has not agreed to one of the other proposals that I made at Second Reading, which was more fully and better expounded by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. It is the subject of Amendment 74, which the noble Lord has just moved. I greatly look forward to hearing the observations on this amendment, as I hope we shall, from the noble Lord, Lord Renfrew, who is the doyen of parliamentary archaeologists—or should I say archaeological parliamentarians?

    Proposed new Section 8A in Amendment 74 would extend the duty to report a find to anyone who came into possession of an object where they had grounds to believe that it was treasure and had not previously been duly reported. This was in the Government's own draft Bill. The reasons for its omission from the Bill as finally published were explained by the Minister, Bridget Prentice, in Committee in another place on 24 February and again by my noble friend in his letter of 22 May, which has been copied to many colleagues. My noble friend said,

    "We are not convinced that it would be practical to monitor this wider duty, and it would inundate the Coroner for Treasure with finds which are not treasure within the meaning of the Act or finds which have already been investigated".

    I add my plea to my noble friend and to the Government to think again. He says that it would not be practical to monitor this wider duty. There are duties under a great many laws that we do not monitor—if we did, we really would live under a Big Brother state. The law should establish particular duties and offences, and then it is the responsibility of the citizen to abide by them.

    We need to close what some dealers and collectors unfortunately take to be a loophole. At present, the duty in Section 8(1) of the Treasure Act to report treasure rests solely with those who find the treasure in the first instance. Someone who subsequently comes into possession of an item of treasure and who may know or suspect that that item has been unreported may believe from reading the Treasure Act that they are in the clear if they hang on to the object, and indeed if they deal in it. I am advised that Section 329 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 makes it an offence to be in possession of stolen property—in the case of potential treasure, property of the Crown or perhaps of the landowner. However, the Treasure Act 1996, in contrast to most of our laws, allows ignorance of the law to be a defence. Only someone who can be proved to have intentionally broken the law is liable to prosecution. Currently, the administrators of the Portable Antiquities Scheme seek to advise anyone who finds himself in possession of unreported treasure—perhaps a dealer in antiquities or someone who inherits an object—to report it, but it is hard to reach everyone and advice is no more than advice, so it is a weak position. Some dealers may be genuinely hazy as to their legal responsibilities; others, I think, are deliberately evasive about the legal position. Either way, it is not satisfactory.

    For nearly three years, the British Museum has had an agreement with eBay to monitor its site for potential treasure. Of the 302 sellers of potential treasure questioned by British Museum staff, 6 per cent claimed that the find was an old find and therefore did not need to be reported; 2 per cent said that it was the finder's responsibility and not theirs to report; 26 per cent said that the find spot was not known—that is a very important finding; 18.5 per cent said that the find was foreign; 16.5 per cent gave other reasons why the find need not be reported; 22 per cent did not respond at all; and only 9 per cent of those questioned said that they would indeed report. It is evident, therefore, that vendors are buying potential treasure finds without carrying out due diligence. If the obligation to report were widened, as this amendment proposes, then the duty of due diligence would be strengthened, and there would be a new pressure on dodgy dealers.

    I emphasise that there are wholly respectable dealers within the United Kingdom antiquities market. Worryingly and shamingly, however, a number of dealers and collectors in Britain are not respectable. I shall illustrate this from another context. We have recently read reports about illegal excavations in Afghanistan: 1,500 items are reported as having been looted there and intercepted at Heathrow. The National Museum in Kabul has put on an exhibition of artefacts recovered from Britain. It is a disgrace that there are dealers and collectors who are prepared to collude with this kind of looting, whether from sites of very important heritage abroad or of treasure in this country. We must deter such behaviour. We need to increase the powers of the police; we need to improve the practice and ethos of the antiquities trade; and we need to improve the reputation of the London market.

    Those would all be benefits of Amendment 74 and they would be important benefits, even if the coroner for treasure were to be inundated, as the Minister fears. In fact, I do not think that the coroner for treasure would be likely to be inundated. If this amendment were on the statute book, dealers would be deterred from acquiring items that might be unreported treasure. In any case, dealers will not want to report where they do not need to do so. They do not want to get bogged down in paperwork, and they do not want the delays and the blight on being able to sell as an item passes into the coroner's limbo. In practice, 97 per cent of treasure cases are reported to a finds liaison officer employed under the Portable Antiquities Scheme and not directly to the coroner. These finds are then filtered through the finds liaison officer and British Museum experts. Another amendment might usefully state that a report can be made to a person nominated by the coroner for treasure and not directly and literally to the coroner for treasure. We should also supplement the stick with the carrot and extend the existing statutory reward scheme for reporting to third parties who report.

    The Minister says that, rather than have this amendment, a better course would be to improve awareness of the duties under the law. We should do that anyway. To that end, he says that his department will work with those who are involved with the Portable Antiquities Scheme—the DCMS, the British Museum, the National Council for Metal Detecting and the Council for British Archaeology. The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, raised this question. Will my noble friend tell the House what the timescale for this consultation and co-operation will be? I understand that the DCMS has been saying that it cannot discuss the proposed way forward with the British Museum, which has a statutory duty to administer the provisions of the Treasure Act, until after this Committee stage debate. Why the delay? Will he commit his department to embarking on this process straight away?

    The first part of Amendment 74—the proposed new Section 8A—is supported by the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group, which consists of 135 members of all parties in both Houses; by the Treasure Evaluation Committee, which was appointed by the Secretary of State to advise the Government and affirmed its support for the amendment at its meeting on 17 June; by UK Detector Net, an online forum for metal detector users which has 2,800 members; by the Institute of Archaeology at University College, London, a foremost school of archaeology; by the Council for British Archaeology; and by the Society of Antiquaries of London. I hope that it will also be supported by the Government.

    We can dispose very quickly of proposed new Section 8B, the second part of the amendment. This would give the coroner for treasure the power to require any person to hand over any object which, for the time being, the person had control of and which the coroner proposed to investigate as potential treasure. Bridget Prentice said in Committee on 24 February:

    "There has never been a case under the current system where anyone has refused to hand over an item".—[Official Report, Commons, Coroners and Justice Bill Committee, 24/2/09; col. 299.]

    Since then, such a case has occurred—a 14th century silver piedfort—and that case is now in the hands of the police. However, my noble friend, in his letter of 22 May, has satisfied me that paragraph 1 of Schedule 4, as amended by amendments in this group, will provide the coroner for treasure with the requisite powers. So I think that proposed new Section 8B should be dropped from Amendment 74 if we find it necessary to retable it on Report. However, I hope that my noble friend will undertake to consider carefully the case that we have put forward and himself table on Report an amendment proposing new Section 8A, perhaps refined, as a government amendment.

    Profile picture for Lord Howarth of NewportBy: Lord Alan Howarth
    Party: Labour
    Constituency: Newport
    At: 23/06/2009 19:15:00
    Comment made during: Coroners and Justice Bill — Committee (3rd Day) (Continued)

  • My Lords, many noble Lords have complained that this is a ragtag Bill or a dog's breakfast, as the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, just said, but for some of us this is a fantastic thing. Those involved in legislation to do with heritage or archaeology always find their issues tagged on the end of something else, so to find them in this Bill is a wonderful feeling. Before I thank the Minister for accepting the amendment on the coroner for treasure, I should say that I am almost disappointed because I have with me a briefing with coloured tags for an incisive and decisive argument. I have never been so well prepared for an amendment, but he has shot the fox, as the expression goes. However, I thank the Minister for accepting the arguments and for the work done by other noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Howarth of Newport, and all those in the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group.

    However, I think that the Minister would be upset if I said that I would leave it at that and that I was going to sit down, so there are a few points that I want to make. I thank the Minister for putting something back that had been in the draft Bill, so these are almost government points. Three other small points that would be of incredible value to those of us in the heritage community were contained in Schedule 3 to the 2006 draft Bill. If they were included, life would be a great deal simpler for those in the heritage sector. They all concern aspects of treasure. Some noble Lords may not be aware of the growing number of finds due to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which is now looking at much stronger funding due to the Government's work. Treasures are being brought to light by metal detectorists in areas the majority of which would have been destroyed by the actions of industrialised farming. Noble Lords can go to the British Museum to see the treasure exhibition or catch it on tour to appreciate the value of the finds that are coming up through the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

    The first of the three amendments that I ask the Minister to replace in the Bill, because they would make life a great deal easier, is to widen the obligation to report finds of treasure to anyone who comes into possession of treasure. At present, the duty to report treasure in the Treasure Act 1996 rests solely with those who find treasure. The British Museum has an agreement with eBay to monitor its site for potential treasure, although it is thought that many items of treasure are sold by third parties without applying the appropriate due diligence tests. The amendment would encourage best practice.

    I have had a number of meetings with eBay on this after the passing of the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill, a Private Member's Bill that I had the joy of taking through your Lordships' House. When I found the legal representative for eBay and said that I would like to talk to him about this, his first answer was: "How the hell did you get this number?". It is not the easiest thing tracking down eBay. I am not saying anything about the quality of the company, but there is a major problem with the fact that a market could be created in finds. We know from the English Heritage report on nighthawking that the illicit selling of finds is a major problem. If this market is created on eBay and takes hold, we will see a large number of our sites raided. Of course eBay has made agreements with other European countries on this. We asked it why it had not signed an agreement in this country and it said that it was because our legislation is not as strong as legislation in other European countries, which I believe says something about how we prioritise our heritage. This is an extremely important amendment and I hope that the Minister will look at it kindly, because there are a large number of APPAG members who are going to enjoy a few discussions on this. If he just accepted what of course was a government amendment, against which it is going to be very difficult to argue, that would shorten the course of the Bill.

    The second point is to give the coroner powers to require anybody who reports the discovery of found treasure to deliver it to the coroner. We know of a case where Bronze Age axes were reported to the coroner but some of the best of them were kept out of the report, which meant that there was a real problem in finding out about their existence.

    The third point, which I think is extremely important in making sense of the Treasure Act at all, is to allow more time for prosecution to be brought under the Act. The case that I just mentioned took a long time and, even though the police were prepared to prosecute, the statute of limitations, which at present is at six months, is not long enough to deal with the process. If a coroner's report is taking a year—or in some cases two years—the statute of limitations kicks in and the whole system is made a farce.

    These would be three small but valuable changes. They would not be very costly but would make the job of the coroner for treasure announced by the Minister far more relevant. I believe that they would make our heritage far safer from that small minority of people among the metal-detecting community who use metal detecting for profit rather than for extending the knowledge of our heritage.

    By: Lord Rupert Redesdale
    Party: Liberal Democrat
    Constituency:
    At: 18/05/2009 20:10:00
    Comment made during: Coroners and Justice Bill: Second Reading

  • No recent discussions have been held with Natural England about the advice they provide to landowners who apply for permission to hold metal detecting rallies under those agreements that have been renewed into Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) since October 2008.

    Natural England issues comprehensive advice on metal detecting on its website, together with advice in the ELS handbook. Natural England requires twelve weeks' advance notification for large-scale events.

    For agreements starting since October 2008, the ELS handbook advises that with the exception of Scheduled Monuments, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), and known archaeological sites under grassland, metal detecting is allowed on land within an ELS agreement provided this is undertaken in accordance with the best principles contained in the latest version of the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales, and that all finds are reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

    Profile picture for Lord Hunt of Kings HeathBy: Lord Philip Hunt
    Party: Labour
    Constituency: Kings Heath
    At: 30/04/2009
    Comment made during: Written Answers — House of Lords: Metal Detection

  • This is an extremely important clause, and it would be made a great deal more effective by the new clauses that we have tabled. They would, in effect, bring back the proposal to set up a coroner for treasure that was contained in the original draft Bill.

    I shall provide some background and history, because it might be of interest to the Committee. The Treasure Act 1996 provided a new definition of finds that must be reported to coroners as treasure, and which are then offered to museums to acquire. This process has turned out to be very successful: before 1996 there were roughly 25 finds a year, but last year there were 804, in 2007 there were about 700, and in 2006 there were 600. In other words, a large number of finds are being reported that were not reported previously.

    The new system is working well. For example, in my constituency, a few years ago, some Iron Age gold torcs were found in and around a village called Snettisham. That gave rise to a great deal of local publicity as they were worth a huge amount of money and are now in Norwich museum. That was a major local event that obviously brought a great deal of money to the finder and owner of the land on which the torcs were found. In practice, most reported finds are sent on to the finds liaison officers of the portable antiquities scheme, who liaise with the British Museum, whose staff then write a report.

    The coroners hold an inquest into finds wanted by museums. In 2007, I understand, fewer than 300 cases went to an inquest. Often, the inquest is a small paper exercise, and a major inquest will only take place if  there is a dispute with the museum. The remaining cases are disclaimed and the objects returned to the owner of the land or the finder. However, the truncated inquest process still takes up time. The find will be valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee, and the money split between the landowner and finder.

    There is a need for speed. Finders—the metal detectors—whom we see from time to time in fields around our constituencies, are a dedicated bunch of enthusiasts. However, they are often impetuous; they want their money and there is always a temptation to put their finds on eBay and sell them quickly. Unscrupulous metal detectorists may do that, but we hope that they are few in number. The Treasure Act 1996 code of practice states that the reward should be paid within 12 months. For that to happen, coroners need to hold the inquest within 90 days. The problem is that the target is not being achieved. The picture is erratic: for example, in Leicestershire and Rutland the average time taken to hold an inquest is now 49 weeks; in Warwickshire, it is 40.6 weeks; in Northamptonshire, it is 36 weeks; in Wiltshire, it is 39 weeks; and in Norfolk, it is 24.5 weeks. Unfortunately, among the coroners who are slowest at dealing with treasure cases is the one that covers the constituency of the hon. Member for Bridgend. He has two cases outstanding. One has taken three years and 20 weeks, and the other has taken two years and three weeks—both cases are way outside the Treasure Act code.

    Profile picture for Henry BellinghamBy: Henry Bellingham
    Party: Conservative
    Constituency: North West Norfolk
    At: 24/02/2009 17:45:00
    Comment made during: Public Bill Committee: Coroners and Justice Bill: Clause 20

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what his policy is on the future of the Portable Antiquities Scheme; and if he will make a statement.

    Profile picture for David ChaytorBy: David Chaytor
    Party: Labour
    Constituency: Bury North
    At: 11/02/2009
    Comment made during: Written Answers — Culture Media and Sport: Portable Antiquities Scheme

  • The information has been supplied by the organisations requested and is set out in a sequence of lists with details per organisation.

    Arts Council England

    Arts Council England has reported that it does not have records of terms that were used over the last three years, as terms are added and removed on an ongoing basis. The list as of 1 January 2009 is set out as follows. The list also contains a number of Regularly Funded Organisations, which is updated depending on levels of media interest and coverage:

    Arts Council England

    ACE

    Tessa Jowell

    Arts—Government policy

    Artsmark

    Big Lottery Fund

    Creative Partnerships

    Heritage Lottery

    Own Art

    UK Film Council

    The National Lottery

    Comprehensive Spending Review

    Cultural Leadership Programme

    Young People's Arts Award

    London Architecture Biennale

    Liverpool Capital of Culture

    Take it Away

    Arts Debate

    Architecture Week

    Arts Award

    James Purnell (only reports on former role as Secretary of State for DCMS)

    Andy Burnham

    Margaret Hodge

    Open Doors

    London 2012

    DCMS

    Department of Culture, Media and Sport

    Well London

    Art08

    Theatre

    Living Places

    Legacy Trust

    Big Dance

    Fourth Plinth

    The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA)

    The MLA has reported that it does not have records of the key words used for 2006 and 2007, but the list as at 1 January 2009 is as follows:

    MLA

    Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

    Acceptance In Lieu Scheme

    Roy Clare

    Margaret Hodge

    Andy Burnham

    Better stock, Better libraries

    BSBL

    Framework for the Future

    Love Libraries

    Mark Wood

    Museums—designated status

    Obituaries

    People's network

    Portable antiquities

    Renaissance in the regions

    Archives—nationals

    Archives

    Libraries—nationals

    Libraries

    Museums—nationals

    Museums

    Conservation art

    Conservation Awards

    Department for Culture, the Media and Sport

    Exports of works of art

    Political policy-culture and the arts

    Public Record Office

    Cultural Olympiad—nationals

    Cultural Olympiad

    Museum Accreditation Scheme

    Museum Designation Scheme

    Arts funding

    Art sales

    The Big Lottery Fund

    The Big Lottery Fund has reported key words for each of the three years. They are set out in the lists:

    2006

    Active England

    Advice Services

    Awards for All

    BASIS

    Big Lottery Fund

    Change UR Future

    Changing Spaces

    Children's Play

    Community Buildings Community Libraries

    Community Fund

    Do It 4 Real

    Fair Share

    Family Learning

    Green Spaces and Sustainable Communities

    Growing Community Assets

    Heroes Return

    International Grants

    Investing in Communities

    Living Landmarks

    Millennium Commission

    National Lottery Good Cause Distributors

    New Opportunities Fund

    Parks for People

    People's Millions

    Reaching Communities Research Grants

    The Big Lottery Fund

    Their Past Your Future

    Transforming Waste

    Transforming your Space

    Veterans Reunited

    Well-being

    Young People's Fund

    2007

    Active England

    Activities for Young People

    Advice Plus

    All Coverage of Lottery Money Being Used to Fund the 2012 London Olympics

    Awards for All

    BASIS

    Big Lottery Fund

    Big Lottery Fund (Nationals)

    Breathing Places

    Cancer Equipment

    Cardiac Rehabilitation

    Change UR Future

    Changing Spaces

    Children's Play Initiative

    Children's Play Programme

    Community Buildings

    Community Fund

    Community Libraries

    Defibrillators

    Do It 4 Real

    Fair Share

    Family Learning

    Five A Day

    Green Spaces and Sustainable Communities

    Growing Community Assets

    Healthy Living Centres

    Heroes Return

    Home Front Recall

    Improving Community Buildings

    International Grants

    Investing in Communities

    Live and Learn

    Living Landmarks Millennium Awards

    Millennium Commission

    Millennium Projects

    Millennium Trust

    National Lottery

    National Lottery Good Cause Distributors

    New Opportunities for PE and Sport

    New Opportunities Fund

    NOF—digitise

    NOF Digitisation Programme

    Olympics (only in connection with BIG)

    Olympics (in relation to National Lottery Good Causes)

    Parks for People

    People's Millions

    Play England Project

    Playful Ideas

    Primetime

    Reaching Communities

    Research Grants

    Safe and Well

    School Sports Co-ordinators

    The Big Lottery Fund

    The Dome

    The People's Network

    Their Past Your Future

    Transforming Waste

    Transforming your Space

    UK Online Centres

    Veterans Reunited

    War Veterans

    Well-being

    Young People's Fund

    Your pound your choice

    2008

    Active England

    Activities for Young People

    Advice Plus

    All Coverage of Lottery Money Being Used to Fund the 2012 London Olympics

    Awards for All

    BASIS

    BASIS 2

    BIG Lottery Fund

    Big Lottery Fund (Nationals)

    Breathing Places

    Building Research Establishment

    Change UR Future

    Changing Spaces

    Children's Play Initiative

    Children's Play Programme

    Community Assets

    Community Buildings

    Community Fund

    Community Libraries

    Community Recycling and Economic Development

    Fair Share

    Family Learning

    Green Spaces and Sustainable Communities

    Groundwork UK

    Growing Community Assets

    Healthy Living Centres

    Heroes Return

    Home Front Recall

    Improving Community Buildings

    International Grants

    Investing in Communities

    Legacy Trust

    Live and Learn

    Living Landmarks

    Millennium Awards

    Millennium Commission

    Millennium Projects

    Millennium Trust

    MIND

    myplace

    National Lottery

    National Lottery Good Cause Distributors

    Natural England

    New Opportunities for PE and Sport

    New Opportunities Fund

    NOPES

    Olympics (in relation to National Lottery Good Causes)

    Olympics (only in connection with BIG)

    Parks for People

    People's Millions

    People's £50 Million Contest

    People's £50 Million Lottery Giveaway

    Playful Ideas

    Primetime

    Reaching Communities

    Research Grants

    RSWT

    Safe and Well

    School Sports Co-ordinators

    Sustrans

    The Big Lottery Fund

    Their Past Your Future

    Transforming Waste

    Transforming your Space

    UK School Games

    Veterans Reunited

    War Veterans

    Well-being

    www.thepeoples50million.org.uk

    Young People's Fund

    English Heritage

    English Heritage has reported that a single list of key words was used during the last three years. It is set out in the list:

    Archaeology

    Architecture

    Blue Plaques

    Buildings

    Builds At Risk

    Cabe

    Cathedrals/Churches

    Chiswick House and Gardens Trust

    Conservation Areas

    Cutty Sark

    Development (of Old Buildings)

    English Heritage

    Farm Buildings

    Hadrian's Wall

    Heritage Counts

    Heritage Lottery Fund

    Kenilworth Castle

    Kenwood

    Listed Buildings

    Lord Sandy Bruce Lockhart

    National Trust

    Osborne House

    Planning

    Regeneration

    Simon Thurley

    Stonehenge

    World Heritage Sites

    English Heritage has also reported that it monitors the names of relevant Ministers and the list is updated as appropriate. Monitored names from 2006 to 1 January 2009 are listed as follows.

    Andy Burnham

    Caroline Flint

    Hazel Blears

    Margaret Hodge

    Tessa Jowell

    James Purnell

    Hillary Benn

    Ruth Kelly

    Barbara Follett

    Heritage Lottery Fund

    Heritage Lottery Fund has reported key words used in each of the last three years. They are set out as follows.

    2006

    Heritage Lottery Fund

    National Heritage Memorial Fund

    2007

    Heritage Lottery Fund

    National Heritage Memorial Fund

    2008

    Heritage Lottery Fund National

    Heritage Memorial Fund

    Portrait of a Nation

    Profile picture for Barbara FollettBy: Barbara Follett
    Party: Labour
    Constituency: Stevenage
    At: 12/01/2009
    Comment made during: Written Answers — Culture Media and Sport: Arts Council of England: Mass Media

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the terms of reference of the review of the Portable Antiquities Scheme are.

    Profile picture for Don FosterBy: Don Foster
    Party: Liberal Democrat
    Constituency: Bath
    At: 05/06/2008
    Comment made during: Written Answers — Culture Media and Sport: Archaeology

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what funding allocation he has made for the Portable Antiquities Scheme in (a) 2009-10 and (b) 2010-11.

    Profile picture for Don FosterBy: Don Foster
    Party: Liberal Democrat
    Constituency: Bath
    At: 05/06/2008
    Comment made during: Written Answers — Culture Media and Sport: Archaeology: Finance

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which Portable Antiquities Scheme posts are vacant; and what plans there are to fill them.

    Profile picture for Don FosterBy: Don Foster
    Party: Liberal Democrat
    Constituency: Bath
    At: 05/06/2008
    Comment made during: Written Answers — Culture Media and Sport: Archaeology: Vacancies

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the (a) terms of reference and (b) timetable of the review of the portable antiquities scheme are; who is to undertake the review; and if he will make a statement.

    Profile picture for Tim LoughtonBy: Tim Loughton
    Party: Conservative
    Constituency: East Worthing and Shoreham
    At: 06/05/2008
    Comment made during: Written Answers — Culture Media and Sport: Archaeology

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the effect on the operation of the portable antiquities scheme of the decision to maintain funding for the scheme at 2007-08 levels in 2008-09.

    Profile picture for Tim LoughtonBy: Tim Loughton
    Party: Conservative
    Constituency: East Worthing and Shoreham
    At: 06/05/2008
    Comment made during: Written Answers — Culture Media and Sport: Archaeology: Finance

  • asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the future funding and management of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

    Profile picture for Lord Renfrew of KaimsthornBy: Lord Colin Renfrew
    Party: Conservative
    Constituency: Kaimsthorn
    At: 13/03/2008 11:26:00
    Comment made during: Portable Antiquities Scheme

  • The Secretary of State did not mention the fact that the convergence think tank is costing some £300,000. Given that Ofcom is doing a great deal of the work, is it not a little tactless to spend that kind of money on so few seminars—I believe that one of them is on Arsenal football club—when the portable antiquities scheme and hundreds of other arts organisations are fighting for survival as a result of Government cuts?

    Profile picture for Bill WigginBy: Bill Wiggin
    Party: Conservative
    Constituency: Leominster
    At: 10/03/2008 14:30:00
    Comment made during: Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport: Convergence Think Tank

  • I warmly congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mark Fisher) on securing the debate. I would like to acknowledge formally his huge contribution to getting us where we are today. We have a scheme of which everybody is rightly proud. The information he has given us supports the importance of the scheme in the ecology of what we have in relation to archaeology in this country. Congratulations to my hon. Friend on that. I also acknowledge that there has been considerable concern about the funding of the scheme from a number of hon. Members who are present.

    For the record, I shall say a little about the scheme itself. My hon. Friend was right to say that the scheme was first set up as a pilot—probably when he was Minister with responsibilities for these matters—to complement the treasure system put in place to administer the Treasure Act 1996. The interesting thing about the 1996 Act is that it obliges those who find objects that fall under the definition of treasure to report them to their local coroner within 14 days so that we as a society can have the security of knowing that such objects will be held.

    In a way, the scheme celebrates local history. What I have seen of the scheme during my time as Minister is that it is a powerful way in which to engage local people, particularly those who use metal detectors. It allows people to understand, celebrate and commemorate local history and it is great to see that happening. People do find some absolutely wonderful things. I have seen some really exciting and interesting objects. Those who use metal detectors are a bit like fishermen fishing on the land or on dry territory. It is a very lonely experience for those who use metal detectors, but it is incredibly rewarding to uncover something that helps us to better understand our past.

    My hon. Friend was right to say that the scheme has been a huge success. The way in which we have run the scheme has been a win-win for everybody. The finder and the landowner are rewarded for their efforts in bringing the treasure into the public domain and the public benefit by being able to see and learn from the important relics of their community's past. The other joy of the scheme is that it is pretty accessible. Everyone, whether a post-graduate researcher at one of our top universities or a young person entering secondary school, can access the information provided by the scheme on the website. Some 320,000 separate objects are catalogued on the website and are accessible to us all. In 2006, which is the last year for which we have figures, 250,000 individual users accessed the data, which are incredibly important for students and currently being used for a number of PhD theses and other dissertations.

    On the funding of the scheme, which is what I think hon. Members want to discuss, although we had a good settlement—I am grateful for the kind comments of my hon. Friend—it was nevertheless a tight fiscal settlement. We have tried to ensure that the money went into priorities right across the Department for Culture, Media and Sport family. My hon. Friend will know that we ring-fenced some money for the renaissance programme. That was the right thing to do. The renaissance programme has been hugely effective in improving the quality and the environment of many of our regional museums. If we consider the figures on who accesses the treasures, as a result of the renaissance programme and regional infrastructure developments, people who in the past would probably never have gone into a museum now take the first step across the threshold and enjoy the benefits that that can bring them. That was a very good way of determining how to use a budget which, although better than many other budgets, was not as much as we would have needed to carry on all the programmes and expansions of programmes that we would have liked. We took a priority decision.

    The portable antiquities scheme sits as part of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council family. My hon. Friend is right to say that the MLA has had a considerable cut in its financial settlement and must look for considerable savings. Even with the best will in the world, we could not have protected entirely the portable antiquities scheme from the fiscal constraints that we all face. Getting a flat cash settlement for 2008-09, which is what it has, is not bad in relation to many other organisations that we fund, which are having to look to the future. Every organisation should constantly examine how it functions and how it can renew itself, to see whether it can eke out efficiencies. We should not protect any organisation from that endeavour.

    Profile picture for Margaret HodgeBy: Margaret Hodge
    Party: Labour
    Constituency: Barking
    At: 05/03/2008 16:44:00
    Comment made during: Portable Antiquities Scheme

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the effect that the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council's decision to fund the portable antiquities scheme (PAS) at the existing level in 2008-09 may have on the existing number of jobs at the PAS; and if he will make a statement.

    Profile picture for David TaylorBy: David Taylor
    Party: Labour
    Constituency: North West Leicestershire
    At: 03/03/2008
    Comment made during: Written Answers — Culture Media and Sport: Archaeology

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