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Government Amendment 7 stipulates that the annual report, which the Chief Coroner must submit to the Lord Chancellor under Clause 35, must include a summary for the previous year of the number of investigations that have taken more than 12 months, the reasons and any action taken. Families and others whom the coroner has determined are interested persons in a case will be aware of any reason for delay as they will be provided, under paragraph 21 of the charter for bereaved families published alongside the Bill, with three-monthly explanations of the progress or otherwise of their case. This is the most appropriate way for coroners to be accountable to interested persons for the length of their investigations, and is the most proportionate use of resources to deliver the policy behind the noble Baroness's amendment. I hope that the House will accept the government amendment in lieu of the amendment passed on Report. I beg to move.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I warmly thank the Minister and his department for their thoughtful and helpful response in bringing forward the amendment. There will be many grateful families. Keeping an eye on timing is so important, and, as the Minister said, so is spelling out reasons for any delay. This is a tremendous step forward and I am extremely pleased that we will see it in the Bill.

Lord Williamson of Horton: My Lords, I, too, thank the Government for the amendment. We took this point very seriously. The Bill as a whole, and this particular amendment, have helped considerably with the problem of delays. This was an important point.

Amendment 1 agreed.

Clause 14 : Investigation in Scotland

Amendment 2

Moved by Lord Tunnicliffe

2: Clause 14, page 7, line 35, leave out subsection (6)

Lord Tunnicliffe: My Lords, government Amendments 2, 4, 12 and 31 bring us back to the important issue of investigations into the deaths of service personnel who die serving their country. We tabled the amendments

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following the House's agreement to a similar amendment tabled on Report by the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes. That amendment provided for a deputy chief coroner to be responsible for monitoring investigations into the deaths of service personnel, and for the training of coroners who conduct these investigations.

The amendments reflect-and I suggest enhance-the noble Baroness's amendment tabled on Report. Whereas the noble Baroness's amendment would have made a deputy chief coroner responsible for service personnel investigations, the amendments confer those duties instead on the Chief Coroner. This refinement to the noble Baroness's amendment will further strengthen the provision while retaining the spirit and motivation of her proposal. In the reformed coroner system it will be the Chief Coroner who is responsible for setting standards and training coroners to investigate particular types of deaths. It is therefore fitting for the Chief Coroner to have responsibility for training coroners who carry out service personnel investigations, and for monitoring those investigations. I hope that the noble Baroness and the House will be content with the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Henley: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Fookes I thank the Government for accepting the principle of having a national figure who can monitor military inquests. I congratulate my noble friend, who unfortunately is unable to be here today, on driving the issue in Committee and on Report. We are pleased to note that government Amendment 4 covers inquests into the deaths of service personnel who are killed on active service and in training. I thank the Minister for tabling the amendment.

Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, as probably the only services representative in the House, I thank the Minister for the amendment, and the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, for fighting the cause, which has given immense pleasure to the services fraternity.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, the Liberal Democrats supported the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, in her campaign. We are very glad that the Minister has come to a very sensible conclusion.

Amendment 2 agreed.

Amendments 3 and 4

Moved by Lord Tunnicliffe

3: After Clause 17, insert the following new Clause-

"Investigations lasting more than a year

(1) A senior coroner who is conducting an investigation under this Part into a person's death that has not been completed or discontinued within a year-

(a) must notify the Chief Coroner of that fact;

(b) must notify the Chief Coroner of the date on which the investigation is completed or discontinued.

(2) In subsection (1) "within a year" means within the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which the coroner was made aware that the person's body was within the coroner's area.

(3) The Chief Coroner must keep a register of notifications given under subsection (1)."

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4: After Clause 17, insert the following new Clause-

"Monitoring of and training for investigations into deaths of service personnel

(1) The Chief Coroner must-

(a) monitor investigations under this Part into service deaths;

(b) secure that coroners conducting such investigations are suitably trained to do so.

(2) In this section "service death" means the death of a person who at the time of the death was subject to service law by virtue of section 367 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 (c. 52) and was engaged in-

(a) active service,

(b) activities carried on in preparation for, or directly in support of, active service, or

(c) training carried out in order to improve or maintain the effectiveness of those engaged in active service."

Amendments 3 and 4 agreed.

Amendment 5

Moved by Lord Redesdale

5: After Clause 27, insert the following new Clause-

"Amendment of Treasure Act 1996

After section 8 of the Treasure Act 1996 (c. 24) (duty of finder to notify coroner) insert-

"8A Duty to notify coroner of possession of certain objects

(1) A person who-

(a) has possession of an object, and

(b) believes or has reasonable grounds for believing-

(i) that the object is treasure, and

(ii) that notification in respect of the object has not been given under section 8(1) of this Act,

must notify the Coroner for Treasure before the end of the notice period.

(2) The notice period is fourteen days beginning with-

(a) the day after he obtains possession of the object; or

(b) if later, the day on which he first believes or has reason to believe-

(i) that the object is treasure; and

(ii) that notification in respect of the object has not been given under section 8(1) or subsection (1) of this section.

(3) Any person who fails to comply with subsection (1) is guilty of an offence if-

(a) notification in respect of the object has not been given under section 8(1) or subsection (1) of this section; and

(b) there has been no investigation in relation to the object.

(4) Any person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to-

(a) imprisonment for a term not exceeding the relevant maximum;

(b) a fine of an amount not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale; or

(c) both.

(5) In proceedings for an offence under this section, it is a defence for the defendant to show he had, and has continued to have, a reasonable excuse for failing to notify the Coroner for Treasure.

(6) If the office of Coroner for Treasure is vacant, notification under subsection (1) must be given to the Chief Coroner.

(7) This section does not apply to a person to whom section 8 of this Act applies.

(8) In this section "investigation" means an investigation under section 26 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.""

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Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I wish to speak to the amendments in my name in this group but I shall withdraw them, as the Government have tabled Amendment 6. Those members of the All-Party Archaeology Group who were involved in the work on this amendment would like to thank the Minister and his team for the assiduous work they have done to close what we believe is a loophole in the section on metal detecting and treasure. We believe that Amendment 6 meets very clearly the areas which we have raised. As it has been dealt with, we will not have to speak at any great length. I beg to move.

Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, I, too, welcome the amendments tabled by the Government and echo what the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, has said about the very helpful collaborative process, not least the impressive degree of collaboration between the Minister's department and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

We may have a handful of minor reservations about the amendments which the Government have brought forward. I regret that auction houses are not to be brought within the scope of new Section 8A. I regret that they have judged that it was not appropriate to use the formulation of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, in referring to a person coming into possession rather than having property in an object because that would have had the effect of widening the scope of the measure also to include bailees, for example people to whom an object had been consigned for valuation or repair. Given that the purpose of these amendments was to ensure that, where an object should have been identified as potential treasure in the past but had not been and had got into the marketplace, it could then be restored back into the treasure process. I would have thought that we would want to spread the net widely, but that is perhaps a quibble.

I very much welcome the presumption that objects will have been found after 24 September 1997, the date on which the Act came into effect in England and Wales. I also welcome the extension of the scope of the measure to Northern Ireland. However, I am sorry that the Government did not feel able to accept the thrust of other amendments which we tabled on Report, particularly that there should be a duty on those trading in antiquities to produce documented provenance. That is an issue to which we can return in a different context on a future occasion. Meanwhile, I very much welcome the movement made by the Government in these extremely constructive and helpful amendments which they have tabled and which will greatly improve the legislative position.

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn: My Lords, I, too, thank the Government for their very sympathetic response to these amendments, which were originally tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Redesdale and Lord Howarth of Newport. This represents a very satisfactory outcome. On behalf of the All-Party Archaeology Group, I would like to say how much we appreciate the care given by the Government to the consideration of these amendments.

However, I echo the point already made by the noble Lord, Lord Howarth of Newport, that the change in the wording of new Section 8A from,

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in Amendment 5 to,

in Amendment 6, seems to let the auction houses off the hook. I am not quite clear what their duties will be in such an instance. Perhaps the Minister could say a word about that or, if it is too complex a matter to deal with now, he could write to us later.

The same question applies to eBay. A lot of the problems have arisen from sales on eBay, and I am not entirely clear now on its status or responsibilities in these affairs. eBay is not the vendor, as I understand it, and probably does not have property in the object. I am not even certain whether eBay would have had possession of the object in the original amendment. I realise that may be going into detail that is too difficult to deal with on the present occasion but, as the noble Lord, Lord Howarth of Newport, has indicated, this area remains grey. Auction houses are not at present required to indicate where they got an object from; they are not even, as I understand it, always obliged to indicate who the vendor is. These are matters that must be dealt with on a subsequent occasion.

For the moment, we thank the Government very warmly for responding to these amendments in so constructive a manner, which is a significant step forward. I am happy to support the government amendment.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am very grateful to the three noble Lords who have spoken, not just for the thanks they have given to the Government for fulfilling our undertaking on Report, but for the way in which they have brought pressure on various departments of the Government to move these matters forward. It has been a model of the way in which those who want to achieve progress in their expert field decide to do so. I dare say-I get it from the gentle caveats that I have heard in the general praise-that they will be attempting to move forward in due course. Whether I am standing at this Dispatch Box when they eventually do so is a different matter.

Amendment 6 introduces a duty on acquirers of objects that may be treasure to report them to the Coroner for Treasure. The duty will apply to all those who, after the duty comes into force, acquire an object that they believe might be treasure. This might be as a gift or a bequest or through a sale. The acquirer will have a duty to report the item to the Coroner for Treasure. We are satisfied that there is a need to ensure that the system to protect cultural objects is not undermined. Acquirers will be granted a reward, as the finder would have been if he or she had reported the find. We believe that we will be able to balance the rights of acquirers with the important purpose of the treasure system of preserving the nation's cultural heritage.

We will of course continue to carry out educational activities, telling people about the duty on finders and the new duty on acquirers, but we hope that this new duty, with criminal sanctions attached, will deter that small minority of people who sought to exploit the loophole. As with the duty on finders to report an object, the maximum period for prosecution will be three years.

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Amendments 33, 34 and 35 allow the Secretary of State to designate persons to whom reports of treasure finds or acquisitions can be made instead of the Coroner for Treasure. We will need to consult in relation to this, but it is hoped that we will be able to designate finds liaison officers as designated officers to whom reports may be made. Such officers will then inform the Coroner for Treasure of the report.

Taking all these amendments into account, we now have a comprehensive package of reforms to the treasure investigation system. The Coroner for Treasure will form the centre of the new system, and finders and acquirers can be sure that objects that may be treasure will be investigated thoroughly. We believe that these improvements to the system will also show the public that the cultural heritage of this country matters to us. I repeat how grateful we are for the contributions of the three noble Lords who spoke today.

As to the use of the word "property", I have a form of words here, but I think it would be better if I wrote to the noble Lords about that matter.

I am conscious that I did not give time for the Opposition to speak. I do not know if they wanted to. Before I invite the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, to withdraw his amendment it is perhaps fitting that on the day when we come to this agreement about the future, the Metro, which I know is widely read by Members of this House, has an article headlined:

"Seven steps to finding £1m in gold".

It tells the story of:

"An amateur treasure hunter using his metal detector for the first time",


This was not in England or Wales but in Scotland, but it is good news for him and perhaps good news for the House.

12 noon

Baroness Warnock: My Lords, I would like to say a few words about the use of the word "property" with regard to auction houses. I warmly support what the noble Lord, Lord Renfrew, said about the duty of auction houses to investigate the provenance of what they are selling. This relates not only to the Bill but to the question of looted property which the House considered a few months ago. This is a matter of great importance, and I hope that it will come back to the House at some later stage.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I certainly agree that it is a matter of great importance, but it would be better on this occasion if I wrote to all those who have taken part in this debate.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response. I, too, noticed the article in the Metro this morning. Anyone can go to the British Museum and see the great Staffordshire hoard. I say that only because it was looted from Northumbria, and I very much hope that it will be repatriated to that great

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county and not stay in Staffordshire. Although I know that museums in Staffordshire are fighting to get hold of it, it is ours and we want it back. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 5 withdrawn.

Amendment 6

Moved by Lord Bach

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