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


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 decision.


  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.

April 2000

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