Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport First Special Report

Appendix 5

Supplementary Memorandum submitted by Rt Hon Lord McIntosh of Haringey: responses to supplementary questions posed by the Sub-Committee

1.  Very little appears to have changed since the last Committee report on historic ships other than setting up the new National Historic Ships Unit. Are there no other steps the Government can take in this area?

I disagree with the observation that little has changed. On the contrary, we have a clear policy for Historic Ships and, for the first time, a properly funded National Historic Ships Unit, which has wide support, and through which that policy can be delivered in conjunction with the Heritage Lottery Fund as the principal funder. This is a significant achievement. In addition we have provided extra funding to the National Maritime Museum to help support the team delivering the Sea Britain 2005 project, a major promotion of the Maritime Heritage in 2005 with excellent support from Visit Britain, which I welcome. Thanks to the work of the National Historic Ships Committee the National Register of Historic Vessels is now up to date providing a valuable source of information with the new Unit will take forward and maintain.

2.  It has been stated that the Government is committed to delivering a national policy on ship preservation and that historic ships have a role to play in delivering government objectives especially in the areas of tourism and regeneration. Yet there will be no government funding other than a small amount to establish the new Ships Unit. The sector has indicated to us that it cannot survive without further funding. Where should they turn to for funding?

The Government's direct funding contribution to historic ships is in relation to the historic ship collections of the museums that it sponsors. This contribution is not small. The National Maritime Museum (NMM), for example, has over 150 vessels in its collection and over the last 10 years DCMS has provided NMM with grant-in-aid in excess of £130 million. Other historic vessels can be found in the collections of the Imperial War Museum, National Museums Liverpool and Tyne and Wear Museums, which also receive grant-in-aid from DCMS. The Government's policy is that funding for other historic vessels is a matter for the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Government will, however, fund both the establishment and running of the National Historic Ships Unit and the associated small grants scheme.

3.  Is there a case for direct government support for at least some ships in the Core Collection?

Where ships in the core collection are part of a Government-sponsored museum collection they may receive grant-in-aid support. Where they are not they will look to other sources of public funding, where available, the Heritage Lottery Fund and private sponsorship.

4.  (a) What difference will the new Unit make in saving more ships when it will not be able to fund programmes? (b) What can it do more effectively than the existing NHSC?

(a) The Unit will advise owners and trusts on sources of funding and advise the Heritage Lottery Fund on what ships should be funded and how preservation can be conducted most cost-effectively

(b) The Unit will be able to provide professional advice on ship preservation on a full time basis, provide professional advice to the Heritage Lottery Fund and it will be able to represent the sector to Ministers. In addition it will have the means, through the small grants scheme to fund research to underpin preservation efforts or to find alternative ways of recording historic vessels.

5.  Looking ahead five years, how do you see the establishment of the new Ships Unit changing the face of preserving our maritime heritage?

The Historic Ships unit will achieve a more coherent, less fragmented and more cost effective approach to the preservation and recording of historic ships, a greater public awareness of the maritime heritage and of the alternative ways of recording and preserving it.

6.  In the submissions we have received, people have complained that to date the large museums have had too much control. Do you intend to ensure that there is adequate representation from all sectors including the smaller private owners of historic ships?

I do not accept the premise that the large museums have had too much control. Indeed I am grateful for the positive help and advice that we have received from them. But, I do recognise the desirability of the Unit being overseen by an independent body and this is why I have proposed that from 2006/07 there should be an Independent Advisory Board whose Chair and Members would be appointed by the Secretary of State. During 2005 we shall be consulting on the composition of the Board and the appropriate representation.

7.  Do/should regional development agencies have a role to play in preserving maritime heritage?

I am aware that the South East England Development Agency has contributed considerable funding support to the regeneration of the Chatham Historic Dockyard and I am also aware that the South West Regional Development Agency has contributed funding to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall at Falmouth. If there is further scope for regional development agencies to play such a role in the preservation of the maritime heritage I would hope that they were in a position to do so. That is, however, a matter of judgement for them but I am sure that the Historic Ships Unit will be well placed to facilitate liaison and constructive engagement with the RDAs.

8.  Can the DTI export licensing regime alert applicants to the need for a separate DCMS export licence? Are the DCMS and DTI export licensing regimes sufficiently "joined up"?

DCMS and DTI are currently in discussion about what measures, additional to those currently in place, can be taken to ensure that applicants for export licences are aware of the licensing requirements of both departments.

9.  The Minister mentioned in evidence that he would talk to Treasury Ministers about the case of Cutty Sark and the fact that the Trust now had to pay VAT following recent changes in the law. Please could you let us know of the outcome of those discussions as soon as possible?

Officials have written to HM Customs and Excise and I will let you know the outcome as soon as possible.

10.  How can tourist boards play a more active role in encouraging people to visit our historic vessels?

I welcome the Sea Britain 2005 Project and the excellent support that this project is receiving from Visit Britain. Although the tourist boards no longer give grants the Regional Development Agencies are responsible for the regional development of tourism strategy and make substantial financial contributions in support of domestic tourism.

21 February 2005

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