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That this House has considered the matter of the Annual Report of the Intelligence and Security Committee for 2006-07, Cm 7299, and the Government response, Cm 7300.
That this House endorses the proposals for the reform of practice and operation of the Intelligence and Security Committee as set out in paragraphs 235-244 of the Governance of Britain White Paper, Cm 7342-I, including provision for nomination of the members of the Committee drawn from the House of Commons to be based in future on proposals made by this House. [David Miliband.]
; and considers that the secretariat of the Intelligence and Security Committee should be staffed by officials under the authority of the Clerk of the House.. [Andrew Mackinlay.]
That this House endorses the proposals for the reform of practice and operation of the Intelligence and Security Committee as set out in paragraphs 235-244 of the Governance of Britain White Paper, Cm 7342-I, including provision for nomination of the members of the Committee drawn from the House of Commons to be based in future on proposals made by this House.
That the following new Standing Order be made:
Members of the Intelligence and Security Committee
(1) The Committee of Selection may propose that certain Members be recommended to the Prime Minister for appointment to the Intelligence and Security Committee under section 10 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994.
(2) No motion may be made for the House to agree to a proposal under this order unless
(a) notice of it has been given at least two sitting days previously; and
(b) it is made on behalf of the Committee of Selection by the chairman or another member of the committee.
(3) Paragraph (1) (c) of Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business) shall apply to any motion made under this order. [David Miliband.]
Christopher Fraser (South-West Norfolk) (Con): I am delighted to present a petition on behalf of my constituents in south-west Norfolk, who are concerned about safety on roads through our villages, which can be narrow and winding. Those roads cannot cope with the speed, weight and volume of traffic that uses them. The residents live in fear of traffic accidents, particularly involving children who use the roads to walk to and from school. The petition is signed by more than 2,000 of my constituents, but many more support its principle. It has my absolute support.
The Petition of residents of South West Norfolk,
Declares that the safety of children and other pedestrians outside schools is vital; that the numbers of road fatalities per year is far too high, that the roads outside schools are particularly sensitive areas; that reducing the speed limit on roads past schools would be an effective way of addressing this.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to consider reducing the national speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour outside schools.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.
Mrs. Janet Dean (Burton) (Lab): I am grateful for the opportunity to mention the importance of Burtons brewing museum not only to local people but nationally and internationally. Burton on Trent grew out of the brewing industry, which developed because of the quality of the areas water, and it still produces splendid beer.
In 1977, centuries of brewing in Burton were recognised when the Bass museum was opened to celebrate the bicentenary of Bass. At that time, the museum was housed in the grade II three-storey building known as the joiners shop. In the 30 years since then, the museum has grown and it now occupies several buildings on the site. There is not only a large gallery that describes the brewing process, but a library, archive and educational facilities, paddocks and stables for the shire horses, a Robey steam engine and vintage road and rail vehicles.
In 2002, Coors Brewers acquired the museum following the companys purchase of the Bass brewery from Interbrew. However, the Bass name remained with Interbrew and, in 2003, the museum was renamed the Coors visitor centre and museum of brewing. Sadly, in March, Coors announced that it could no longer continue to fund the museum and that it would close at the end of June. That announcement was met with great sadness, some anger and a demand for a way forward to be found to save the museum.
The messages of support for the museum that I received came from throughout the UK and from other countries, including France, Canada and America. Both local and national organisations contacted me. I was grateful that the local paper, the Burton Mail , launched a petition, which gathered thousands of signatures and was presented to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, who is the Minister responsible for culture, creative industries and tourism.
I have received e-mails from relatives of those who established the museum, and from those who just wished me good luck or asked me to save the museum. I also received messages reflecting the museums importance, saying that it enables local people to find a sense of their own history and connect it with their heritage. Another e-mail referred to the museum by describing the history of brewing in Burton as the foundation on which the town was built and the museums closure as damaging to the local economy. A former Burtonian living in New Jersey referred to having brought small groups of Americans to Burton to visit both Marstons Brewery, with its unique Burton Union system, and the museum of brewing, which was described as the highlight of the trip.
Given so many messages of support for the museum, I felt that it was important to draw together the many organisations that had contacted me, so I organised a meeting at the Coors visitor centre at the end of March. I expected there to be about 20 people at that meeting, but, in fact, 36 attended, including representatives of the following: Coors; Museums, Libraries and Archives West Midlands; Advantage West Midlands; Staffordshire county council, East Staffordshire borough council; the
Campaign for Real AleCAMRA; the British Guild of Beer Writers, the chamber of commerce; Burton rotary club; local businesses; and local newspapers.
From that meeting, a steering group was formed to take forward the development of an options appraisal. One of the key issues raised at the first meeting was the proposed date for closure of the museum and the lack of time to secure a rescue. There was also concern that the artefacts might be dispersed. Therefore, following that meeting, I wrote to Coors asking whether the closure could be delayed and whether Coors would be prepared to make a financial commitment to the museums future operation. I was pleased that before the first steering group meeting, I received a response from Coors saying that it would be willing to contribute ongoing costs of up to £100,000 per year, as well as the lease of the museum buildings at a peppercorn rent. On top of that, Coors would also be prepared to donate a one-off, match-funded payment of up to £200,000 to a new organisation running the museum. Although Coors could not delay the closure of the museum beyond the end of June, it agreed to keep the museums artefacts and contents intact until the end of the year, so that a plan could be developed to re-open the centre to the public. Coors also agreed to continue to provide curatorial support until the end of the year to ensure the preservation of the collections, and the shire horses would also be retained during that time.
The steering group agreed to appoint consultants to produce an options analysis and their final report was released this week. I want to express my thanks to East Staffordshire borough council and Advantage West Midlands for agreeing jointly to fund the consultants, and to Staffordshire county council for agreeing to provide administrative and communications support for the steering group, as well as providing the Coors visitor centre and museum of brewing with staff time to catalogue the extensive archives held on site. I would particularly like to thank Jon Finch, chief executive of Museums, Libraries and Archives West Midlands, for his tremendous support and guidance over the last few weeks. I feel sure we would not have made the progress that we have without him on board.
The report from Jura Consultants provided a way forward for the museum, and at the last meeting of the steering group, we agreed to ask the key stakeholdersCoors, East Staffordshire borough council and Staffordshire county councilto meet to endeavour to produce a business plan. The consultants report examined the aims and objectives for the future operation of the centre, which include the future contribution the museum can make to tourism and to the regeneration of Burton, finding a financially viable future for the centre, and the necessity to protect the collections, both the objects and the archives.
The collections held at the Coors Visitor Centre are the most significant collection of brewing related objects in Britain. Furthermore, the archive, which comprises the core administrative, financial, production and employment records of Bass and of the many companies from all over the UK absorbed by Bass over decades, is of national significance. It is therefore important that any future of the Coors Visitor Centre should ensure the collections are protected. The value of the collections could also be diminished if they were to be split up.
The museums collection includes not only brewing and malting equipment, brewery transport and specialist items, such as coopering tools, but packaging and historic advertising itemsceramics, glassware, artwork and mirrors. It is also a repository for the Burton town museum, which closed several years ago. It therefore reflects both our local and national heritage.
The importance of the brewing museum in Burton to our national heritage is reflected in articles that have appeared in national publications. In The Guardian, Roger Protz, editor of the Campaign for Real Ale's Good Beer Guide wrote an article entitled A Beery Past Imperilled. He said:
Great brewing nations celebrate the contribution beer has made to their development as civilised societies with dedicated museums. The Czech Republic has two; Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland have one each. Even tiny Slovenia has a brewing museum...while the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin attracts a million visitors a year.
But Britain stands to lose its sole major brewery museum in June when Coors closes its visitors centre in Burton-on-Trent...Brewing is one of the last major British industries. It makes a sizable contribution to the wealth of the nation.
Burton-on-Trent became an important brewing centre as early as the 11th century, when the monks of Burton Abbey were encouraged to make ale for the Earl of Merciaaided by a constant supply of pure hard spring water from the Trent valley. It was this water, allied to new technologies of the industrial revolution, that enabled brewers in the town to fashion a groundbreaking, globally exported style of beer: pale ale.
The small town of Burton heaved with breweries and their armies of workers. The brewers developed their own private railways to feed into the new national network. When St. Pancras station was built in London in the 1860s, its cellars were designed to take great wooden hogsheads of Burton ale..
All this history is brilliantly depicted in the Museum in Burton and shows how beer and brewing are part of the warp and weft of British society.
I should like to thank Roger Protz for his outspoken support for the museum in Burton and for his vision of its development into a truly national museum of brewing. The chair of the British Guild of Beer Writers, Tim Hampson, wrote a letter to The Guardian in support of the museum. He said:
Burton-on-Trent is quite simply one of the greatest brewing towns the world has ever seen... If it closes, we would lose an invaluable, unique resource and be denied the only real large-scale beer tourist attraction in the country. The collection is priceless and inimitable.
The collection of artefacts should be kept with the archives. Nothing on its scale exists anywhere else in Britain. And Burton is the natural place to keep it. Burton and the museum are intertwined and it is essential that we try to preserve the heritage, not only of the brewing industry, but of the town. Coors must give the project to create a National Museum of Brewing something almost as valuable as the collection itselftime.
Although the museum closed its doors to the general public on 30 June, I welcome Coors commitment to keeping everything intact until the end of 2008. I understand that, if significant progress can be made towards finding a new operator for the museum, then an extension to the company's commitment could be forthcoming. However, we need to make speedy progress.
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