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National Heritage Fund

Volume 84: debated on Monday 21 October 1985

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asked the Minister for the Arts if he will estimate the number of hours spent by officials of the Office of Arts and Libraries on matters relating to the National Heritage Fund in the last 12 months.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund is an autonomous body administered by its own staff. Government responsibility for it is shared between the Department of the Environment and Office of Arts and Libraries. The responsibilities of the Office of Arts and Libraries in relation to the fund take up a small amount of the time of my hon. Friend's staff, which cannot readily be quantified.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Bearing in mind that he has various hats, can he confirm that funds are and will be available for appropriate railway structures, including the Ribble head viaduct and, under another hat, will be ensure that the future of the Settle-Carlisle line is kept in mind by the bodies with which he has contact?

There is nothing to prevent the NHMF from funding railway-related projects, and I was pleased to see that in 1983–84 a grant from the fund saved the Haymarket train shed in Edinburgh, which is now in Bo'ness.

As my hon. Friend knows, British Rail proposed the closure of the Settle-Carlisle line and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has a quasi-statutory role, which makes it difficult for Ministers to say anything at the moment. However, I assure my hon. Friend that the heritage and tourist aspects of the line will be taken into account when my hon. Friend makes his decision.