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National Trust

Volume 628: debated on Thursday 14 September 2017

6. What recent discussions her Department has had with the National Trust on its stewardship of places of cultural value and heritage. (900839)

My Department has regular conversations about shared interests with the National Trust, such as conservation, participation and world heritage. I will be meeting Dame Helen Ghosh, director general of the National Trust, next month.

I thank the Minister for his answer. I should say that I am a member and a supporter of the National Trust. I must ask, however, whether the licensing for trail hunting on National Trust land is consistent with his aim of preserving and protecting historical places and spaces, considering the growing evidence of illegal hunting, particularly under the false alibi of trail hunting, and the damage that can cause.

That is certainly a matter I will need to raise with the director general of the National Trust. Such matters are for National Trust members, and the National Trust has its own policies in place. I believe that a resolution is going to its annual general meeting in the autumn. This is a matter for it to resolve.

I thank the Minister for his recent visit to Cornwall. I am pleased to be able to confirm to the House that the Minister is a fine figure of a man when wearing a wetsuit. On his visit, I am sure he will have learned that Cornwall has a disproportionately high number of National Trust properties, many of which are kept going not just by the paid staff but by an army of volunteers. Will he join me in paying tribute to those volunteers and thanking them for their excellent work in maintaining our National Trust properties?

I thank my hon. Friend. I do not know about my bodyboarding, but I certainly enjoyed visiting Watergate Bay, which is a fine destination in Cornwall. Volunteers across so many cultural, arts and heritage organisations do a wonderful job. It is great that they can contribute and offer so much up and down the country.

Alongside the National Trust, the Minister will be aware of the press coverage over the weekend about a number of high-profile charities that own seats in the Albert Hall. Trustees of those charities have been selling those seats at a very high price. That is a despicable practice; it is no way for such charities to act in a modern society. Will the Minister support the Charity Commission in trying to resolve that issue to ensure that despicable practice stops?

This is a matter for the Charity Commission, as the independent regulator of charities. I am aware of the controversy reported this week, and I welcome the commission’s attempts to resolve this long-standing and complex issue.