Memorandum submitted by the National Trust
Thank you for inviting the National Trust to
contribute to this important inquiry. We very much welcome the
opportunity to put forward our views.
The National Trust was very disappointed to
learn that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
has decided that the UK should not become a signatory to the UNIDROIT
Convention on the International Return of Stolen or Illegally
Exported Cultural Objects (Hansard, 7 February 2000). We
have always supported ratification of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention
and the 1970 UNESCO Convention as we believe it would counter
the illicit trade of foreign antiquities into Britain, and stem
the outward flow of British antiquities throughout the world.
We very much hope the Secretary of State will reconsider this
The National Trust does not believe that it
would be sensible to carry out retrospective assessments of historic
collections. Many of the properties in our care are international
assemblages and are culturally and historically significant for
that reason. Principles designed for present and future artefact
finds are not appropriate for historic collections.