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Lord Baker of Dorking: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the welcome that he has given to the publication. He referred to it as a community resource. It is certainly that, as well as being a scholastic resource.

I put specific proposals to Mr Clarke—I appreciate that the Minister does not come from that department, but there is supposed to be joined up government, as it were—and if he were enthusiastic he would no doubt have indicated his enthusiasm to the Minister replying this afternoon.

I still believe there is a need for the dictionary to be online in schools. Children can tap in the name of their community, wherever they live. I know that time is passing, but that is what history is all about. It is all very well for the Minister to look at his wristwatch, but we have until four o'clock. Schoolchildren can tap into the online record the name of the town in which they live and find out an enormous amount about it.

The Government should take some steps to make this more available. They are not recognising the publication in any other way. As everyone on all sides of the House has said today, this is one of the most significant publishing events of the past 20 or 30 years.
 
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If the Government are not going to be more forthcoming, that will reinforce the view that this Government are not really interested in history.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I do not deny the fact that I answer for the Government and not for an individual department. That has always been the position in this House. But the noble Lord, Lord Baker, wrote to Charles Clarke on 7 September; he will get an answer with all deliberate speed, but it is not one that I am in a position to give today.
 
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The contributions which have been made and the support that has been given to the new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography show the seriousness with which this House, at any rate, takes this outstanding publishing event. I hope that I have made clear that the Government share in the congratulations and share in the admiration of all those who have taken part.


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