Wednesday 25 July 2012

Prehistory of the PAS: Hansard 2006

Portable Antiquities  16 Dec 1996 : Column WA102
 Lord Pilkington of Oxenford asked Her Majesty's Government: When they will announce what action the Government intend to take in response to the discussion document on portable antiquities which the Government published in March. 
Baroness Trumpington:
In the discussion document on portable antiquities published in February 1996 we sought views on proposals for a scheme for the recording of all archaeological finds, of which perhaps as many as 400,000 a year are currently being discovered, in the belief that there was an urgent need to improve the current arrangements. We received a total of 173 responses and we would like to pay tribute to the care which many of the respondents took with their replies. There is a great deal of invaluable advice in the responses which will guide us as we take the initiative forward. We would like in particular to single out the detailed statements from the Standing Conference on Portable Antiquities and the National Council for Metal Detecting. Copies of the responses have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Everyone who responded agreed on the importance of recording archaeological finds and on the need to improve the current arrangements, while the balance of opinion was strongly in favour of a voluntary rather than a compulsory system. This means that for the first time we have a broad consensus for the way in which this should be taken forward.

In the light of these responses and following further consultation by the department, we can now announce that we intend to establish a two-year programme of pilot schemes to commence on 1st September 1997 and that we are making £50,000 available for the eight-month period that falls within the year 1997-98. The scheme will be co-ordinated directly by this department and the funding will be channelled through the Museums and Galleries Commission. The aim of the pilot schemes will be to enable an accurate estimate to be made of the resources that would be needed to extend the scheme across the whole of England. The funding will be directed towards employing additional staff in three or four areas to record finds. Our first step will be to invite any suitable body-museums but also perhaps county planning departments or other archaeological bodies--to express an interest in bidding for funding and we intend to do this early in the new year.
Note that their original assumption was that a voluntary scheme would recover information on ALL finds being made across England (only) and the amount that would be needed to cope with was 400 000 a year. The PAS actually has averaged about 90 000 records a year.

Thanks to Nigel Swift for the link

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