No. 83 Vol VII No. 12 Published August 1982
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The Way Forward?
T HE Heseltine Report mark I has been followed by the Heseltine Report, mark II. Over 300 replies were received to Michael Heseltine's origina l proposal s on th e Organisation of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings and now that these have been sifted, a new document has been prepared entitled "The Way Forward", published on 16th June 1982. This is somewhat longer than the previous document being 44 pages long and costing an exorbitant £3.55. The new document falls into two parts; the first part, occupying a third of the total, is the main text, whilst the remaining twothirds is taken up by a series of annexes giving details of the structure and organisation of the new body.
After a brief introduction, the main part of the text is devoted to a summary of the arguments for and against. It then goes on to discuss the way ahead with a brief look at the biggest outstanding problem, the question as to whether the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments should be included in the new agency, and it then reaches its conclusions.
The meat of the document lies, however, in the annexes. Annexe A looks at the Board of the new body, which is clearly going to be very much under the control of the Minister who will appoint all the members (surely wrongly; archaeologists should press that there should be at least some independen t commissioner s appointed by outside bodies as with the present Ancient Monuments Board). The longest annexe, Annexe B, discusses the executive functions of the new body in some detail. Annexe C then discusses the Commission's advisory role, and
Annexe D looks at the financial arrangements (very much under the control of the government). Annexe E the n look s at staffin g arrangements, starting off by saying that the staff of the Commission will not be civil servants and then going on to say that they will in fact be civil servants in all but name. Finally, Annexe F is given over to transitional arrangements, which look like being more prolonged than originally hoped, with a starting date unlikely to be before 1st October 1983 or possibly 1st April 1984.
Although the new document is clearly intended to terminate the arguments about whether the new body should be established, there are a number of questions which are still open and on which the Minister seeks advice. The most important is the position of the RCHM (England): should it be included? I get the impression that powerful interests (the Commissioners?) are opposed to its inclusion. Surely, however, it ought to be included, even if only for the cynical reason that if it is left outside it will be on a limb and at the mercy of the next financial axe. Another problem that is proving knotty is that of the Royal Palaces. Clearly it would be inappropriate to hand over Buckingham Palace and the other palaces in royal residence to the new body. On the other hand the new body should have the obvious expertise to look after the Tower of London and Hampton Court. Where should the line be drawn?
One problem that has emerged as a result of widespread criticism of the previous paper is the problem of Scheduled Monument Consent. Clearly the Minister must maintain ultimate control, and two alternative proposals are put forward as to how he should do this. Should the Minister maintain control over the whole process, which would require the retention of a separate core of professional advisers? Or should the new body deal with the main