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Volume 405: debated on Thursday 15 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to her Answer of 7 May 2003, Official Report, column 730W, on Iraq (Cultural Heritage), what progress has been made on implementing recommendation 6 of the Report of the Ministerial Advisory Panel on Illicit Trade; and if she will make a statement. [113004]

The Government have been active in pursuing a permanent, single, widely accessible database of stolen and unlawfully removed cultural objects and is currently finalising an outline business case for this. Such a database is considered by the art trade and museums to be an important part of the package of measures designed to curb the illicit trade. We welcome the announcement made by UNESCO on 29 April that it intends to establish a database of items believed to have been stolen from Iraq and we will be working closely with them to ensure that this database is as comprehensive as possible.