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Protection Of Wrecks

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 25 February 1999

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asked Her Majesty's Government:How many staff are employed within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the administration of the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973; how many of these are (a) full-time and (b) trained in heritage management: and what steps are taken to ensure some continuity of experience in the administration of this legislation. [HL886]

Four members of staff in the department are involved in day to day administration of the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 as one of a number of heritage-related responsibilities. None has been specifically trained in heritage management, but all have a background in providing general policy advice to Ministers. In carrying out administration of the 1973 Act, officials act on the expert advice of the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites and the Archaeological Diving Unit, which is contracted to the department to report on the suitability of wreck sites for designation under the Act. Officials also have at their disposal complete records relating to previous administration of the Act and policy on underwater archaeology, together with sets of desk instructions, to ensure continuity. The Departmental Spending Review proposal to give English Heritage additional powers with regard to underwater archaeology is designed to address the concern that policy should be undertaken by heritage professionals rather than civil servants.