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Magna Carta

Volume 597: debated on Monday 29 June 2015

It is normal practice, when a Government Department proposes to undertake a contingent liability in excess of £300,000 for which there is no specific statutory authority, for the Minister concerned to present a departmental Minute to Parliament giving particulars of the liability created and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from incurring the liability until fourteen parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the Minute, except in cases of special urgency. I have today laid a departmental Minute proposing to provide an indemnity of £24,000,000 in respect of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office-approved global tour of the Magna Carta and King’s Writ celebrating the 800th anniversary. This indemnity will last from 1 September until 31 December 2015 and will cover loss or damage of the documents in this period. The 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta provides a unique opportunity to support our diplomatic and economic objectives. This global tour supports the UK’s position as a mature democracy built upon the values it promotes globally, and our established position as a centre of finance, commerce and law. We have secured the agreement of the Dean and Chapter of Hereford Cathedral to use their 1217 Magna Carta and only surviving King’s Writ from Runnymede 1215 for this tour. If the liability is called, provision for any payment will be sought through the normal supply procedure. The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of fourteen parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which this Minute was laid before Parliament, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a parliamentary question or by otherwise raising the matter in Parliament, final approval to proceed with incurring the liability will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.