Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Article excerpt

THE leftovers of ancient history, it is quite reasonably asserted when a private landowner wants to plough up an Iron Age fort or dismantle a henge, are the property of us all. They are ours to visit, enjoy, take photographs of and generally use as our cultural pointers.

Except that our cultural overlords don't really mean that ancient monuments belong to us as individuals; they mean that they belong to HM government and its quangos. And those quangos are becoming very jealous of the money that private individuals are making from publishing guidebooks and selling souvenirs. Under the Culture and Recreation Bill, now wending its way through Parliament, such harmless private enterprise will be stamped on.

The Bill awards the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission a new trading function. No longer focused on preserving and recording, the Commission will in future be charged with producing and selling souvenirs relating to ancient monuments and historic buildings. And to help it on its way, the Commission is given the power to exploit 'any intellectual property or any other intangible asset relating to ancient monuments or historic buildings'. …

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