Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 37

Memorandum submitted by the Institute of Field Archaeologists

  The Institute of Field Archaeologists (IFA) is the professional body for archaeologists in the UK. It promotes best practice in archaeology, and has c. 1500 members nationwide. Archaeologists who are members work in all branches of the discipline: heritage management, excavation, finds and environmental study, buildings recording, museums, conservation, survey, underwater and aerial archaeology, research and development, teaching, and liaison with the community, industry and the commercial and financial sectors. The Institute is represented on a series of key heritage-related panels and working parties, including the Council for British Archaeology-sponsored Portable Antiquities Working Group, which has a particular interest in the findings of your Committee.

  We have seen a draft of the Portable Antiquities Working Group's response to your call for written and oral evidence on the matter of Cultural Property: Return and Illicit Trade and would like to register our full support as a member of the Working Group. We would fully endorse the general concerns within the Group for the illicit trade in antiquities of British origin which might be exported abroad and, equally, for the very large numbers of antiquities of foreign derivation which continue to appear in British sale rooms. The IFA supports fully the position of the Working Party in advocating the ratification of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects and the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The Institute also supports the Working Party in its advocation of a geographical extension to the currently successful Portable Antiquities Recording Scheme whereby artefacts found in England and Wales are now being recorded on a regular basis by liaison officers. The success of the pilot scheme pre-empts the need for these objects to go into public ownership.

  The Portable Antiquities Working Group has now considered the problems of import, export and sale of illicit and other antiquities for some time. Being fully involved in its discussions on these matters, the Institute fully supports the Working Group's request for the opportunity to enlarge upon its conclusions in oral evidence to the Committee.

March 2000


 
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