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Ancient Monuments

Volume 87: debated on Thursday 21 November 1985

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the agricultural aspects of conserving ancient monuments.

Many ancient monuments are situated on agricultural land and in these cases the main responsibility for their day-to-day protection lies with the farmer concerned. It is, of course, a criminal offence to destroy or cause damage to any protected ancient monument. Farmers can and do enter into management agreements with the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, under which payments are made to help with the cost of the positive management of ancient monuments.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. May I ask for her reassurance that she will continue to keep an eye on the protection of such sites and the need for proper public access to them?

In applying our agricultural policy we take acount of other interests, including the protection of ancient monuments. To that end ADAS officers can help farmers to recognise the value of archaeological sites on their land and advise them on the most appropriate farming methods in use for protection of those sites. My hon. Friend mentioned access. The agreements with the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, to which I have just referred, can provide for access but I understand that in practice very few do.