Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1 - 19)



  Chairman: Good morning everybody. Welcome to this the first session of our inquiry into protecting and preserving our heritage. Before I introduce the witnesses I think Helen Southworth would just like to make a short declaration.

  Helen Southworth: Thank you, Chairman. I have a relevant declarable interest for this inquiry, in that my husband will become a member of the Heritage Lottery Board North-West from April this year.

  Chairman: Can I therefore welcome you all. We have representatives of a number of voluntary organisations, I think four of which are part of the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies, but you will all have specific interests in the preservation of ancient buildings. In particular, can I welcome: Philip Venning, the Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings; Matthew Saunders, the Secretary of the Ancient Monuments Society; Dr Ian Dungavell, the Director of The Victorian Society; Adam Wilkinson of SAVE Britain's Heritage; and Bridget Cherry of the Twentieth Century Society. May I invite Adrian Sanders to begin?

  Q1  Mr Sanders: What really, really needs to be in the White Paper, and what can wait?

  Dr Dungavell: I can start while the rest of them are gathering their thoughts on that, but that is a very good question. One of the things that most worries us, I guess, is listing. There is something that needs to be done before the White Paper and that is an interim protection for buildings which are being considered for listing, which is that DCMS tell English Heritage to tell the owner of the building that it is under consideration for listing. Already I know of two buildings which have either been demolished or have been substantially altered as a result of their owners being notified. Quite rightly, the owner makes their own decision what to do, but I think that is a terrible way to prejudge whether the building is listable or not. I think that needs to be changed right away. In the White Paper there also needs to be a consideration that owners will not like having consideration for listing hanging over their heads for a long period of time. I do not think that is fair. There needs to be a defined period in which a decision about listing has to be made, and I have not seen that mentioned so far. It would be quite wrong for listing decisions to take as long as they do now while there is that protection. In the evidence of The Victorian Society you will see that we are aware of some outstanding listing decisions going back to 2002; and we have also got some very important listing decisions which are still unresolved while major development is planned in the area. I would like to give you two examples of that because I think they are quite important. One is the Walter Bodmer Library at Oxford University which is an unlisted building and a member of the public submitted it for listing in April 2005. The Council apparently are beginning their consideration of this planning application today not knowing the result of that listing application, and that seems to me the sort of thing which will bring the whole system into disrepute. We were told by DCMS that English Heritage had recommended it for listing, but DCMS had turned it down. I wonder why it is disregarding the advice of its advisors on the historic environment. The person who submitted it for listing has asked for a review, and we were told when we phoned last week the decision would be made yesterday; but when we phoned yesterday DCMS told us it would be made "in due course". Another university, the Arkwright Building at Nottingham Trent University, we have asked to be upgraded; and we submitted that request on 20 July 2005. It is still undecided even though the local planning authority is trying to decide on a listed building consent application now and it is up for consultation. Those sorts of things I think need really to be sorted out.

  Mr Wilkinson: Just to raise a flag at this point if I may to do with conservation areas and the need for serious action. At present buildings in conservation areas are woefully inadequately protected. This is largely to do with the Shimizu decision, which has not been corrected even though many years ago this removed much control over demolition in conservation areas. There is a real opportunity here to sort this out and make sure that buildings in a conservation area that are of historic and architectural interest or generally adding to the ambiance of a conservation area can be properly protected, which at present they are not.

  Mr Venning: Could I add something to that. I think the Government has made it clear, particularly in the recent Public Value Conference that was held a couple of weeks ago, that what the Government would like to see is greater involvement with ordinary members of the public in decisions about what buildings should or should not be protected and, in a sense, given some degree of public funding in the process. In a way, it is actually these very buildings, the ones in conservation areas, which are the ones that people are most likely to fight over. If it is local building that they love—has family associations, maybe it is a school which they went to, perhaps not architecturally terribly important but one that adds to that village or town something that they feel strongly about—certainly at the moment the fact that it is in a conservation area means precious little; it is surprising really what you can get away with in a conservation area. I am desperately sad because in a village in Norfolk there was a very nice village hall converted from an early 19th Century foundry and the windows were windows which had been made in that foundry, very nice early ironwork in good condition and when I went back yesterday there were all horrible plastic ones, all done absolutely with permission and so on, perfectly acceptable, but had utterly transformed that building. That same story can be told absolutely anywhere you go.

  Q2  Mr Evans: What do you want to see in conservation areas with buildings then?

  Mr Venning: I think certainly a good bit more control than there is at the moment and clarity of control. I think that is the other problem. People are not clear precisely what you can or cannot do. What we are not saying is the controls should be as onerous as they are with listing. At the moment there are categories of control in conservation areas, but I think the situation desperately needs clarifying. For those of you who are not familiar with this Shimizu judgment that we referred to, this was a House of Lords' decision on an entirely different matter, nothing to do with conservation areas but it produced a definition of the word "demolition", which previously had not been terribly clear. The problem with that is the idea of part demolition is one of the items that appears in the conservation area legislation. By making this decision on a totally different matter it suddenly changed the legal framework for conservation areas. The Government when it first came into power in 1997 had said this was one of the things they were going to try to do early on, but there is still no sign of action on that front at all. Conservation areas are definitely something which ought to be dealt with.

  Q3  Chairman: When you said the windows were changed "with permission"?

  Mr Venning: I should correct myself—there was no need for permission. I beg your pardon.

  Q4  Chairman: The local authority could not have prevented it?

  Mr Venning: No.

  Mr Saunders: If it was listed they could have done.

  Q5  Chairman: The Shimizu decision, is that something which you detect that DCMS accepts needs to be addressed?

  Mr Saunders: Yes.

  Q6  Chairman: It is just a question of legislative time?

  Mr Saunders: Yes. Several ministers have said, "We want to change it", but the time to actually do that is not found. The White Paper is going to include a radical reform, and we know that the substance of it is going to be the listing process—the process of protecting buildings. There is a feeling that, rather than rearranging the chess pieces there ought to be an addition to the chess pieces on the playing board—because some of the redirection of effort towards reform has been away from the resurvey itself—away from making sure that the lists are as up-to-date as possible both in the description of the building and also in the number of buildings included. For instance, Colchester 1971; Oxford 1972; Exeter 1974; Winchester 1974; these are really old lists. There have been additions over the years—Exeter has 65 additions clipped into it and it is a very, very cumbersome bible to use—and because there has not been a systematic street-by-street, building-by-building reassessment (the last one to be done was in Bath) the other towns are now to be put onto the backburner. The effort will now be towards re-doing the whole system, rather than expanding the degree of controls. I think that is the concern—that the effort will be on rearranging the pieces rather than adding to the number of pieces.

  Ms Cherry: Could I pick up on that as well from the point of view of the more recent past. The listing, as Matthew has said, in the past was dealt with by area, or for the 20th Century it was dealt with by thematic study, which means when buildings were put forward they were seen within the context of comparable buildings, so one could then assess which were the better ones. That process was adopted for the post-war buildings of the Second World War with research being carried out by English Heritage; and that went on in a very satisfactory way until two or three years ago now when that element of the research was abandoned. As a result we have had a spate of spot-listing requests, which is fine from the point of view of the public being able to put in their inquiries and suggestions, but it does mean that such requests have to be assessed on their own without the relevant context. I think it would be very desirable if more attention could be given, as it used to be, to the kind of either thematic research or area research so that buildings could be understood within their context, within either their local topographical context or their historical context; so when one is assessing, say, a library or a town hall of a particular date you would know whether it was outstanding among other examples of that period. This is particularly important for the recent past because it is so much an unknown subject. It is not an area where people have done a lot of research, and one really needs to investigate the background before one makes snap judgments. I would hope that any future approach to listing would involve adequate resources for the background assessments to be done properly.

  Mr Wilkinson: This question of resources is one which arises out of the White Paper in a very large way. The demands to be placed upon English Heritage as a result of the changes to the listing system will be enormous, and yet there is no guarantee that its funding will be increased, whereas at current rates it will probably carry on decreasing, which is absolutely wrong. Any changes that happen to the listing system must be accompanied by proper funding for the heritage organisations that deal with it, particularly English Heritage.

  Q7  Mr Sanders: I think you have just answered my second question about the effects of the proposals on heritage protection reform on resourcing. Could I go back to Mr Wilkinson's answer to the first question: you referred to "buildings", as did Philip Venning—when you talk about buildings, do you actually mean the site as a whole within a conservation area? Because "conservation area" does not just apply to buildings, it is also to the land, fencing, boundaries and even the landscaping. Could you clarify that when you are talking about that you are talking about the whole area?

  Mr Wilkinson: We are talking about the wider area. The effects of destroying one building are not just on that immediate site but on the setting of surrounding buildings, on the way that the street moves and works, and also how you perceive the street. Yes, it is much wider than just a building—it can mean the land. You get many lovely, beautiful Victorian conservation areas with fine detached and semi-detached villas within them which have gardens around them which are in proportion to the house. The current theme there is to go in, plough down the house and bung up blocks of flats which alters the rhythm and scale of those areas and makes them less pleasant places in which to live.

  Mr Saunders: Through conservation areas you actually can protect trees; whereas you cannot with listing. A tree in the grounds of a listed building can be felled, whereas one in the grounds of an unlisted building or one which has a tree preservation order or is within the conservation area and is more than three inches in girth, you need permission to fell. It is one of the curiosities.

  Ms Cherry: One of the important aspects of studying the 20th Century is large sites—for example, university campuses—where the landscaping and the buildings are really integrated in such a way if you destroy one you destroy the quality of the other. Take for example the University of East Anglia at Norwich which has very striking buildings and a very striking landscape. I think it is not just what one thinks of as conventional conservation areas of historic towns, but it is the way buildings and landscapes integrate on larger sites which need to be looked at very carefully.

  Dr Dungavell: I was going to say the local planning authorities find conservation area work very resource-intensive, and so when they are trying to cope with the pressure of deciding planning applications within the shorter deadlines conservation areas are going to get sidelined. One thing I would like to point is 75% of councils do not have a conservation area advisory committee where local people and experts can feed in their ideas about the conservation area. The ones that do have conservation area advisory committees are cutting back on the number of cases which are referred to them and the amount of time that they take to discuss. I think something needs to be done about that.

  Mr Saunders: Only one-third of local authorities actually have a conservation officer, as it were an expert, helping the public to say "We feel strongly about this particular building". The expert can articulate why it is important in the context of the architecture of the area, as well as the work of a particular architect where it may be a good example of his or her work.

  Q8  Chairman: Your concern about resource implications for English Heritage would presumably apply equally to local authorities who also are going to have additional responsibilities?

  Mr Venning: Even more so probably, because they are actually at the cutting edge, and that is very often where you get local conflicts appearing, precisely because the local authority do not have the specialised staff; the ordinary members of the public are mystified by these strange decisions which seem to be coming out of the local authority. Whereas if you have a knowledgeable and experienced conservation officer they are able, we hope, to talk to the owner, the developer or whoever, explain the situation, negotiate and take sensible decisions. So often things go wrong not because of ill-will on anyone's side but because of a breakdown in communications. That is why really properly trained and experienced staff are critical to making the whole process work.

  Mr Wilkinson: As we have said, very often conservation officers within local authorities are not held in particularly high regard by their colleagues in the planning department and other areas, which is a serious cause for concern. Very often there is preference for economic development over conservation, rather than looking at how the two can work hand-in-hand and they do work hand-in-hand. There is a huge body of evidence to show how, if you keep your historic buildings, you can actually help regenerate the town through them, rather than knocking down and starting again.

  Q9  Alan Keen: I represent the western half of the borough of Hounslow—the eastern half, unfortunately, is not in my half—Syon House and Osterley House, there is a whole list of them. I am very concerned that the local authority resources have been squeezed very, very seriously and this is another implication where the local authority is going to be loaded with more responsibility without the resources to carry it out. Although there a lot of support locally for looking after conservation areas and, in particular, Osterley House and Gunnersbury; although there is a lot of local support for that it will be very difficult for Hounslow borough to look after its responsibilities without something being done about the funding, perhaps ring-fencing it. What do you feel about that?

  Ms Cherry: One of the ways in which the local authorities have been helped in the past is through English Heritage supporting conservation officers and particularly now offering training schemes which can meet this problem which was mentioned, of local officers who really have not got the right skills. The resource funding comes back to English Heritage funding as well. The third element in the funding resources is of course the Heritage Lottery Fund which has done the most tremendous things to take up really complicated sites which were quite beyond the scope of local authority action or individual owners. We do have some serious concerns that future money in the Heritage Lottery Fund may not be directed towards conservation as much as it has been in the past, because that would be a great disaster.

  Mr Saunders: I am a trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund and I have to be very careful. Wearing my Amenity Society hat, one of the great charms of working for HLF now is how HLF is able to solve problems that have been on our collective desks for years. If you think of Chiswick House which has just got £8 million no other body could possibly have given that degree of support to a problem which has been around for years and which only HLF could actually solve because it has collective disciplines within it and a considerable tranche of money. Although I am a trustee and therefore have no personal interest, taking my HLF hat off, I do feel absolutely passionately that HLF should carry on because of the good that it has done in its first 10 years.

  Dr Dungavell: I think that is universally shared by all of us. The transformation the HLF has effected on parts of the historic environment is really astonishing. It is tremendously popular with the public and it also has an emphasis on access and participation. It is not jewels just being saved for the precious few. It is things like the arboretum in Derby, which was probably the first public park in the country, which has been restored amazingly; it is things like the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton, and you pinch yourself walking around there thinking that this is the most amazing public space full of people enjoying it. The transformative power of HLF grants is really astonishing.

  Mr Venning: Could I also declare an interest because I serve on the HLF Expert Panel. However, taking that hat off, what I would say is (endorsing entirely what Matthew said) it is extraordinary how many old cases have been resolved which would not have been otherwise. There is a danger of thinking, "Oh well, we tick those boxes: those problems have been solved and there isn't the need for HLF in future"; that is simply not the case. There is a huge number of issues, not merely in the built heritage—remember HLF covers the natural heritage and covers a very wide range of subjects. There are still major problems out there and we would be very worried indeed if those ones missed out because HLF suddenly found its money was being cut back.

  Q10  Alan Keen: I am obviously extremely happy that the Heritage Lottery Fund can look after the real jewels in the crown, of which we have got quite a few in Hounslow. I am really asking the question about the local authority's part in the linking together of other stuff. Brentford is being developed; the riverfront is being developed; we have got The Butts just behind there and if we are not careful that is going to be surrounded by not very attractive buildings but those which are in tremendous demand along the River Thames. How do we fund the local authority to make sure the conservation areas in between the real jewels can be looked after and linked together?

  Mr Saunders: It has to be a truism that if you give any authority extra powers, whether it is EH for listing and local authorities to be the first port of call for applications for protecting historic buildings (which is what is being proposed under the White Paper), you have to pay for it. I cannot see how it is anything other than blindingly obvious and, therefore, Government has to resource the decision-maker appropriately so the decisions are good quality decisions.

  Q11  Alan Keen: And ring-fence it?

  Mr Saunders: Or however it is done, there has to be an identifiable audit trail which says, "These are your responsibilities and this is the money to make sure you do it properly and well", either from the local ratepayer or from central government; but probably from central government because it is a central government direction to do this. The White Paper will bring to local authorities considerable extra powers, one of which is scheduled monument consent, which is done entirely now by central government. The idea is that you have a single port of entry; every local authority will be the receiver of the applications to alter whatever it is, a barrow through to a 20th Century swimming pool that is very important by Basil Spence for instance; and the scheduled monument aspect is entirely new. Hounslow does not have many scheduled sites although it does have some; but parts of Devon would have hundreds of them in the rural parts in particular, so the extra tasks on local authorities' shoulders will be considerable. After the resurvey of the scheduled monument lists they were talking about 60,000 entries; I think the total has now gone down a bit, but it is quite a sizeable addition. I do not see, on grounds of fairness, how you can give extra tasks without resources.

  Q12  Mr Evans: If we were talking about rainforests now we would know roughly how much is being lost each year as it currently stands. How worried should we be, as the law currently stands, about how much is being lost of our heritage each year? You have given one sort of example, but is there a huge amount of buildings and landscape being lost each year because there just simply is not the protection? Can you give us some sort of ideas as to what we are losing each year?

  Mr Wilkinson: I think you can get a clear idea of what is being lost in terms of listed buildings, but it is harder to quantify the loss of unlisted buildings; likewise incremental change. It is the alterations to buildings, such as ripping out the windows, changing the doors, putting different roofs on, and so on, that alter the character and take away the interest of the buildings that are very hard to map. SAVE was considering doing a report looking at legal alterations to listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas; but we decided that it was too hard to try and trace these changes over the years and see what had been legally done and illegally done, even within one small local authority's area; the challenge would be enormous. From SAVE's own point of view, we can see a very clear threat ahead in the form of the Housing Market Renewal Initiative which at current rates would see 168,000 nearly all unlisted, nearly all not in conservation areas (but pre-1919) terraced houses destroyed over the next 10 or 15 years. I know one or two members of the Committee have constituencies in Pathfinder areas. This is perhaps one tangible area where we will and can see what is being lost; but otherwise the loss is ongoing and incremental problem. This again returns us to the question of conservation officers having proper control over their areas.

  Dr Dungavell: There is also a great repairs backlog as well. The Council for the Care of Churches I think estimates that £1.2 billion is needed to repair Anglican places of worship. HLF has a figure of £5.6 billion on repairs needed to historic buildings. While they are not being done there is a slow decline of the heritage value of those assets.

  Mr Saunders: The actual applications to demolish listed buildings are running at about two a week. The total of listed buildings which people want to destroy was 127 last year in England and Wales. There is a vastly increased number, and EH estimates about 20,000, which are in varying degrees of risk, either because the owner hates it or because the owner does not live in it, or multiple reasons for planning blight, and that is the great threat; because an empty building sadly very often becomes an ex-building because children get into them with a box of matches and it is no more. There are examples of really outstanding buildings, Grade I's as well as the ordinary Grade II's, which are empty and under threat and a total waste in that position as well. That is, I think, the insidious threat and one which is much more difficult to arrest. It is much easier to say to someone who owns a building, "No, you can't demolish". It is much more cumbersome to go beyond that and use repair powers if necessary; but local authorities do not like using those—they have served 300 or whatever but do not like serving a large number of them because of the ramifications. That is a much more intractable problem to solve and it is a huge problem.

  Mr Venning: Matthew talks about the problems of buildings which are empty—one of the keys to it, we feel, is to try to encourage better maintenance of buildings, because it is because a lot of the gutters get blocked that water falls in and the roof rots and very quickly starts falling in and so on. How one actually encourages maintenance is very difficult. My own organisation has run something called "National Maintenance Week" since 2002, which is simply designed to encourage owners of any kind of building, new, old, factories, houses or whatever, once a year to do those simple tasks, like cleaning out the gutters and so on. It is difficult and I know HLF has been struggling with trying to think of ways to encourage maintenance, and a number of others have. There is scope here for DCMS to take a lead, because it relates to many other government departments which have an interest in the care of buildings and so on. I would hope DCMS might take a lead perhaps convening some kind of interdepartmental working party—in fact I have written to the Minister suggesting this—to see if we can do more to encourage maintenance because it meets sustainability and all these other arguments and, at the same time, is a very practical way of ensuring that buildings do not get lost needlessly.

  Mr Wilkinson: The important point is that it saves money in the future. If you clean your gutters out right now to prevent water getting in you are saving grant aid in the future. There is a need for a paradigm shift in the whole system, to be looking at maintenance first and grant aid only where absolutely necessary. Perhaps there should be some form of funding for maintenance schemes. The main obstacle at the moment obviously is VAT, that perennial question that comes back and haunts us the entire time, and I am sure you are all with us on this one as well—there is a need to sort that out very urgently.

  Chairman: It has featured in quite a lot of the evidence!

  Q13  Janet Anderson: Could I ask Adam Wilkinson—you referred to the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder Project, and there is one in my constituency. Do you not accept that in fact some of these houses had reached the end of their natural lifespan and there was no alternative but for them to come down? If I could just add to that—if you take the three areas of Darwen in my constituency, one is in a conservation area and there is no question of the houses there being demolished but they are going to be refurbished. I can say that the vast majority of the people who lived in the houses that are going to be demolished are now very happy. I was talking to someone the other day who had been able, through the compensation he had received and the shared equity he had received, to buy a much better house and he said to me, "When I finish work today, Janet, I'm going to go and sit in my garden. That's the first time I've ever been able to do that". Could I just briefly say to you, do you accept that some of this was essential? For example, in Burnley next door terraced houses were changing hands for £25 in local pubs.

  Mr Wilkinson: I am aware that Burnley Wood must be the worst area and the worst case we have come across; but even there house prices have changed enormously. Of course you could look at some buildings and say there is no hope but other cases, when looking at the whole street, it only takes the repair of one or two to pick up the rest. The Housing Market Renewal Initiative is a sweeping initiative. What seems to be going wrong is failing to look at the small scale and how you can knit areas back together with perhaps some select demolition rather than taking out 200 or 300 houses, or in east Manchester 700 houses, in one go. There is a need to look at how you can carefully knit areas back together, how you can regenerate them through perhaps taking out one or two houses and creating some green space and getting alternative uses into the areas as well and creating employment, rather than just looking at demolition as the cure-all. If you demolish you move the problems onto somewhere else. A lot of problems in these housing areas are social problems and not housing problems, as you well know and are aware of. You do not cure a social problem with a bulldozer; you cure it by other means. There will be times, yes, when perhaps a handful of houses might possibly be taken out but I do not see that mass demolition is the cure. They can be refurbished to modern standards. We have seen that this can be done economically as well. There is this key question of doing it economically. If you can do it economically, individuals and small businesses will do it rather than the Government having to spend the taxpayers' billions on demolishing and rebuilding.

  Q14  Mr Hall: Would you have said the same thing in the 19th Century?

  Mr Wilkinson: Then we would be dealing with buildings in Philip's era. The housing conditions are entirely different nowadays.

  Q15  Mr Hall: Would you want to live in an end of terrace two-up and two-down with no back garden and your front door straight onto the street?

  Mr Wilkinson: I pretty well do actually!

  Q16  Mr Hall: You are very much on your own there!

  Mr Wilkinson: In central London possibly not. That is not the reality though. The houses being demolished now are not proper back-to-backs; most of those were taken out in the 1960s and 1970s and earlier in the 1930s. It is not a case of four families living in a two bed-roomed house. It is usually one family in a one or two bed-roomed house. You can do other things: you can knock two together to create alternatives. Look at what Urban Splash are doing at Chimney Pot Park in Manchester where they are completely adapting the houses.

  Q17  Helen Southworth: We are getting into a discussion about demolition or non-demolition rather than heritage or non-heritage. Is there an issue here about wanting to maintain things because of the contribution to the local community and their viability and the length of life they have got in usable terms, or are you saying that nothing should ever be knocked down?

  Mr Wilkinson: No, I am not saying that. This is where communities are fighting for their buildings. The communities are very strongly linked to their buildings; they love their areas; and they are historic areas as well.

  Q18  Helen Southworth: There is a judgment to be made; it is not an automatic thing?

  Mr Wilkinson: There can be, yes. There is a judgment to be made for us as a small organisation as to where we fight. There is the link between people and buildings. We are often told by Government (all of us in the heritage sector) that we should be more socially inclusive, and yet when we are fighting for buildings alongside communities we are as socially inclusive as you could possibly be.

  Q19  Chairman: May I come back to a theme which you referred to earlier which I think has some resonance in the discussion we have been having, and that is how effective DCMS is in arguing the case for heritage against particularly other government departments? Here we have the case of the ODPM pursuing a policy which you clearly have considerable objection to; and there have been other examples which have come in, in the evidence, where it has been put that DCMS simply does not have the clout needed in Whitehall. Is that something you believe is true, and what can be done about it?

  Mr Saunders: I think there is certainly a feeling that DCMS should be taking more of a high profile lead on heritage matters, particularly as heritage (that dreadful word) actually embraces so much of our lives in all sorts of ways. Just walking down the streets to shops very often you pass areas which have been there for years. I think it is very depressing to look at the mission statement of DCMS to find heritage not mentioned at all. It is almost as if it is an embarrassment: it may be Salisbury Cathedral but it is an embarrassment and, therefore, we do not mention it. I think there is a culture within DCMS which does not seem to be proud of the greatness that this country has produced in terms of architecture as well as art and countryside, everything that heritage is about; instead the emphasis is what goes on today, whatever it is, it's other responsibilities—media, sport whatever. There is a feeling which we seem to get that heritage is not praised and championed as much as it ought to be, particularly as parts of it are under threat; which is not to say that the other causes of the Ministry are not just as important; but not to mention heritage—if you go onto the website it is hardly visible, and yet this country has more listed buildings than any other country in the world except Italy. We have a heritage which is absolutely mesmerising. We have 57 cathedrals and towns like Bath and Chichester. It is just extraordinary. Why is the Government not celebrating that, other than its effect on tourism (which is easily done) but saying, "This matters to the identity and sense of pride and pleasure of this country"? We do not get the sense that that clarion call is coming from the DCMS.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2006
Prepared 20 July 2006