Tuesday 7 July 2015

What hope for the Future Viability of the PAS?

Dodos, replaced first with volunteers
and then phased out
Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham  [Citation: HC Deb, 6 July 2015, cW]
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the continued viability of the Portable Antiquities Scheme after changes to its funding by the British Museum.
Ed Vaizey Minister of State Culture Media and Sport [...]
The 2015-16 resource allocation given to the British Museum by my Department includes funding for the administration of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and allows the British Museum to determine how the Scheme is resourced within its overall funding settlement. [...]  I have made no assessment of the impact that the changes in funding arrangements have had on the Scheme as I believe it is right that the British Museum has more freedom to make its own decisions on spending in this area.
So, basically, in translation, "we are washing our hands of the whole thing, including the process of mitigating knowledge loss through our laissez faire policies on artefact hunting and collecting. Stuff you all". This is on top of his last "I have made no assessment" statement, which basically signalled the government's lack of interest in making the Scheme a more effective part of the heritage management system. Remember this is not at all what the "assurances" he was giving were just last year.

The PAS was basically thrown to the lions on May 1st and it has taken nine weeks for a lone question to be asked in the House about it. That seems to show the utterly shallow depth of concern in both the archaeological circles but also artefact hunting milieu, that the direction of the future development of what was a national scheme is now in the hands of the head of the schools department of a London museum. 

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