Wednesday, 21 January 2015

A Portable Antiquities Scam in Parliament


Edward Vaizey: Spending your
money,  not checking how
effectively.
Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham, Conservative) asks the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 20 January 2015, cW)

Mr Vaizey acts like he did not understand the question, and dodged the issue:
I have made no formal assessment of the effectiveness of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
He instead goes through the official spiel about what the PAS "does",  repeating all the usual glib pious-hope Daily Mail stereotypes (some of the wording apparently cribbed from Estelle Morris' contribution to an annual report over a decade ago, and other bits referring to a wikipedia article on the Scheme as well as a 2011 BBC Scotland 'reality show' [!]). Bonkers, bonkers Britain. That's like an MP asking for a statement on "how effective British hospitals are" and instead of hearing some up-to-date statistics on waiting lists and patient-doctor ratios, being told by the health minister that a hospital is where ill people go to get better and they provide opportunities for the British public to learn about their illnesses and so on...

How come after all the millions of pounds of public money spent on this social experiment, there has been no formal assessment of its effectiveness?

The whole policy on portable antiquities and artefact hunting in England and (for the moment) Wales is one huge scam. The public are having the wool pulled over their eyes about the effects and costs of current policies and the scale of unmitigated damage being caused by bad practice. Mr Vaizey's evasive answer is yet another symptom of this. When is this pathetic charade going to finish?

The 'They Work For You [ha ha]' webpage has a little gizmo on the right: "Does this answer the above question?" Does he answer the question? Metal detectorists, PAS employees and all who are not a bit interested in knowing about the scale of the scam and the damage can press "Yes" and those who think the PAS and the government owe everyone a little transparency and honesty about what is going on can press "No!".

3 comments:

heritageaction said...

No formal assessment but does an outstanding job? That's what he said about detectorists isn't it?

I like the fact he's now added a bit to the story - allows children to learn about archaeology. How lucky are the children of Britain compared with children in other countries and how impressed archaeologists outside PAS will be. Again.

Paul Barford said...

I see from the blogs that at least one knuckle-walking metal detectorist is really confused today about the meaning of the term "formal assessment" in the context of public spending.

Sam Ofnett said...

The term seems quite clear to me. Why would anyone be unable to understand the question?

 
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