§ Mr. Cormack
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made on his proposal for speeding up the national re-survey and completing the updating of the statutory lists of historic buildings; and when these proposals are likely to be put into effect.
§ Mr. Heseltine
I am pleased to report substantial progress since March 1981 when, as a key initiative in response to the Montagu report on the reuse of historic buildings, I announced my decision that the resurvey of England must be speeded up to complete the revision of the statutory lists of historic buildings well within the present decade.
My intention was that the greatly enlarged and accelerated resurvey programme should draw on both the county councils and the private sector to provide the staff for the fieldwork teams. The counties' views on an initial scheme on this basis were invited last autumn. The response was overwhelmingly favourable in principle, with about half the counties both wishing actively to participate and having the resources immediately available to do so. The private sector responded with equal enthusiasm.
In the light of this response I have now decided on a detailed scheme which will engage the counties with appropriate staff and skills readily available for resurvey work, and employ private sector firms in the remaining areas. This should provide a fieldwork team of about 80 in total, drawn in approximately equal numbers from the public and the private sectors. My own Department's professional staff is already being increased and strengthened to train and manage this substantial field force.
Consultations on the detailed arrangements will begin immediately. My aim is to launch the first phase of the scheme, involving the counties, on 1 June; the second phase, involving the private consultants, will be launched in the autumn.
This scheme is designed to ensure that the resurvey is virtually completed within three years—certainly "well within the present decade" and, indeed, some 20 years sooner than would have been achieved under the present time scale.